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MEMOIRS 



OF 



MY OWN TIMES. 



BY 



GEJVERAL JAMES WILJCIMSOJ^, 



»*'■ 



Remember that the ways of Heaven, 



Though dark, are just: that oft some guardian power. 

Attends unseen, to save the innocent ! 

But if high Heaven decrees our fall — let us 

Firmly await the stroke ; prepared alikfe 

To live or die. 

Brown's Babbarosea. 



For patriots still must fall for statesmen's safety, 
And perish by the country they preserve. 




Savage- 



/JV THREE rOTUMES. 
VOL. I. 



PHILADELPHIA: 

PRINTED BT ABRAHAM SMAIX. 
1816. , 



• tr 



« 



F 

3S3,! ^ it 






District of Pennstivania, to wit; 

BE IT REMEMBERED, That oil the fifth day of Feb- 
ruaiy, in the forty-first year of the Independence of the 
fsEAi.3 United States of America, a. d. 1817, GeneralJames Wil- 
kinson, of the said District, hath deposited in this Office 
the title of a Book, the right whereof he claims as Author, in the 
words following, to wit : 

*' Memoirs of my own Times. By General James Wilkinson. 
Remember that the ways of Heaven, 



Though dark, are just: that oft some guardian power. 

Attends unseen, to save the innocent! 

But if high Heaven decrees our fall — O let us 

Firmly await the stroke ; prepared alike 

To live or die. 

Brown's Barbabossa. 

For patriots still must fall for statesmen's safety. 
And perish by the country they preserve. 

Savage. 
In three Volumes." 

In conformity to the act of the Congress of the United States, 
intituled, " An act for the encouragement of learning, by securing 
the copies of maps, charts, and books, to the authors and propri- 
etors of such copies during the times therein mentioned:" And 
also to the act, entitled, " An act supplementary to an act, entitled, 
* An act for the encouragement of learning, by securing the copies 
of maps, charts, and "too'ss, to the authors and proprietors of such 
copies duriog tlie times, th nem mentioned," and extending the be- 
nefits thereof to the arts of desicrning, engraving, and etching his- 
torical and other prints." . •• ■ > 

D. CALDWELL, 
Clerk of the District of Pennsylvania 



<\ 



^' 



H* 



TO THE 



CITIZENS OF THE UNITED STATES, 



AFTER the faithful devotion of the best faculties of 
my youth and my age, to the service of our common 
country ; and after the cruel persecutions I have suffered 
in your name, but without your authority, to gratify 
personal revenge, and promote the sinister policy of 
wicked and ambitious men ,* as a testimony of my unim= 
paired confidence in that justice and magnanimity, which 
never errs except when deceived, these Memoirs are re- 
spectfully dedicated, by 

Your fellow man, 

and fellow citizen, 

JAMES WILKINSON. 



M 



INTRODUCTION. 



THESE Memoirs are offered to the indulgent con- 
sideration of the reader, with no other apology for their 
imperfections, than the assurance, that they must be at- 
tributed rather to a want of competent powers than a 
failure of zeal in their author. 

Military, more than any other class of, men are expos- 
ed to the jealousy, resentment, or caprice of rulers. Re- 
mote from the scenes, where power and influence struggle 
against each other for superiority, they are frequently re- 
sorted to, as the sacrifices necessary to conceal the intrigues 
or incapacity of a cabinet ; under strong excitements the 
imagination too often usurps the province of reason, and 
expectation, however tinged with extravagance, must to a 
certain extent be satisfied, or disappointment, and in some 
instances reprobation, will be the consequences j a sacrifice 
must be made to appease popular clamour, and he who 
plans or he who executes must fall. The minister is pro- 
tected by executive patronage, and the general of cons&. 
quence is selected as the convenient victim. 

The intentions, the integrity, and independence of my 
pen will, I hope, defend its humble productions from the 
unmerited fate of its persecuted master. I am, however, 
sensible, that the anticipations excited by these Memoirs, 
may be unpropitious to their effect, interspersed even as 
they are with public documents and official correspondence 
of interesting character; yet I do promise myself that the 
transactions, anecdotes, facts, and reflections, which I re- 
cord, will not be deemed altogether unworthy the attention 
of the citizen, the soldier, the patriot, and the statesman. 

The motives which gave birth to these Memoirs arc 
set forth in the first chapter of this volume. To exhibit 



\i INTRODUCTIOIf. 

to his countrymen a fellow citizen (sucIj as lie lias been, 
-^ and such as he now is) of whom they have heard much 
and known little^ who has been persecuted for his ser- 
vices, and has served for his persecutions,* to explain and 
vindicate the conduct of an individual, who is not con- 
scious that he has wrong'cd a fellow man, or omitted any 
occasion, within his circumscribed sphere, to discharge 
his duty to his neighbour, and to his country, with zeal 
and fidelity. 

Such are the chief inducements which determined me, 
in the eve of a life which has been devoted to the public 
service, to undertake a task for which I was ill qualified 
by habit or education ; but in entering on what I consi- 
dered a paramount obligation, I resolved to avail myself 
of the latitude peculiar to Memoirs, to save from oblivion 
the details of several incidents and occurrences, relative 
to public men and measures, confined to my own breast, 
or within the knowledge of a few surviving revolutionary 
aSvSociates, 

At the time I commenced the work, my ideas of typo- 
graphical measure was so imperfect, that 1 conceived 
1500 pages octavo would furnish ample scope for the 
range I had assigned to my pen ,• but my manuscripts 
were then chiefly in New Orleans, and they did not come 
to hand until February last ; a glance at the mass of forty 
years growth removed my delusion, and after printing 
more than two thousand three hundred pages, setting 
aside the illustration of my persecutions, which unfortu- 
nately have occupied a large space, I have not been able 
to touch the last twenty-five years of my public services, 
which embrace the most interesting and important scenes 
of ray life, pending the administration of Presidents 
Washiivgtoiv, Adams, and Jefferson, and comprehend 
the four years Indian war, in which I was actively and 
incessantly engaged. The occupancy of the lower Mis- 
sissippi : conferences and treaties, with all the Indian na- 
tions, within the limits of the United States, from the 
Saut de St. Marie and La Frairie des Clucns to the 



XWTRODTJCTIOIsr. VU 

Creek nation : the reception of the province of Louisiana 
from the French Prefect Laussat, under the purchase of 
1803j accompanied by circumstances little understood; 
my government of Upper Louisiana: our difference and 
accommodation with the Spaniards in the quarter of the 
Sabine : Colonel Burr*s conspiracy ; and a variety of 
subordinate occurrences : during which period I made 
eight voyages by sea, descended the Mississippi four 
times, and traversed a trackless wilderness four times, 
from the borders of Louisiana to the frontiers of Georgia, 
through the Choctaw and Creek nations; having travelled 
on public service in tlie years 1802 — -3, through forests, 
and by inland navigation, more than 16,000 miles. 

I tender this explanation to the reader to illustrate the 
causes of the incompleteness of this work, as the official 
correspondence and original manuscripts in my posses- 
sion, could not be comprised in less than three additional 
volumes of the size of those now published. The exhibi- 
tion of these documents is due to my character, and wili 
not be uninteresting to the public. It is therefore my 
purpose, should my life and health be spared by a bene- 
ficent Creator, to avail myself of the interval of repose 
from more necessary labours, to continue these Me- 
moirs, in as regular a series of events as may comport 
with a proper connexion and a clear exposition of the 
several topics on which I propose to treat ; until 1 have 
exhausted the most interesting incidents of the revolu- 
tif>nary and Indian wai-s, and of subsequent public events, 
down to the late peace. 

The freedom with which I have treated President Ma- 
dison, may be imputed rather to disappointed ambition 
and personal resentment, than a sense of political obli- 
gation ; and I confess the magnitude and notoriety of the 
wrongs I have received from him, and by his authority, 
furnish strong grounds for this suspicion; yet if that 
faithful monitor, which speaks within, has not deceived 
me, I may conscientiously deny the imputation ; for if 



% 



Vlii INTKODUCTIOF. ►- 

I have on the severest scrutiny of my breast discovered 
any resentment to the man, I declare it to be of that kind 
of evanescent pain which leaves no sting behind ; per- 
sonally, I from my heart acknowledge myself obliged to 
him, because his persecutions have taught me humility, 
and his attempt to wound my pride and impoverish my 
old age, has furnished me leisure to turn my thoughts 
to duties too often neglected, and, as far as may be al- 
lowed to frail man, to prepare myself for that awful mo- 
ment, which is to determine my fate for ever more. No ! 
I disclaim personal resentment, but will acknowledge 
that I do most ardently detest the vices of the man, and 
although the exposition of his character and conduct was 
indispensible to the vindication of my own, candor re- 
quires I should acknowledge an additional motive, in a 
sense of duty to my country, under the most solemn con- 
viction that be unites in his character the tyrannical dis- 
J)osition and cold hypocrisy of Tiberius, without either 
his energy or partial respect for justice; that he has pro- 
fessed principles in which he had no faith, to effect popu- 
lar delusion for the accomplishment of his ambitious 
views : I consider him an enemy to the constitution, 
which he professed to admire, and swore to support, 
treating his oath with disregard, and his early profes- 
sions with indifference : I verily believe he has laid the 
foundation of a monied aristocracy in these states, and 
fostered a spirit of official speculation, which tends to 
subvert the principle and spirit of the government : and 
that he is desirous to give force and effect to these measures, 
by the undue extension of executive influence, and the 
increase of a standing array. 

These conclusions rest upon about twenty years obser- 
vation, and are supported by the opinion of gentlemen 
who have had more frequent and favourable opportunities 
of knowing Mr. Madison than myself. But if it be fair 
to judge occult characters by the indiscretion of their 
confidents, then President Madison may be suspected by 



iNTKODuCnoN. ix 

Jjis warmest advocates of sentiments hostile to republican 
institutions. The facts have not been sufficiently matured, 
but I have strong reasons for belief that circumstances 
may, ere long occur, to justify the revelation of political 
heresies avowed by a gentleman into whose hands Presi- 
dent Madison not long since surrendered himself and the 
executive functions. I scorn dark inuendoes, and there- 
fore will declare, that the copies of certain manuscripts 
now before me, the originals of which I am promised, 
satisfy my judgment, that, but for the providence of God, 
which dissolved a pernicious association, these states 
would have been visited by calamities of which the public 
have no conception. 

If I have in the explanation of misrepresentations, the 
repulsion of wrong's, and the exposition of injuries, 
which the perusal of these volumes will assure the reader 
are not affected, strictured the conduct of secret assas- 
sins, or open enemies with severity, let it be ascribed to 
the sensibility of a man of honour, barbarously and wan- 
tonly aspersed j and should names sometimes appear to 
be introduced unnecessarily, the exposition has been im- 
posed on me by the unity of circumstances undesired and 
unsought for on my part. 

Military reflections were inseparable from the subjects 
which occupied my pen, and I have occasionally extend- 
ed them with views to the intormation of the youthful sol- 
dier ; for altliough we have an army, and a considerable 
portion of inestimable worth, incorporated with much 
deleterious matter, yet, the great principles of the pro- 
fession are imperfectly understood. In speaking iri-cve- 
rently of the war department, I have yielded to an irre- 
sistit)le impulse, produce*! by the miserable mismanage- 
ment of that bureau, which, instead of being < unfilled to 
the great and important provisions, iinUspensalile to the 
salutary conduct of the various branciies of military ser- 
vice, has been converted into a bmker's sliop, in which 
commissions are commuted for congressional subserviency, 

(6*) 



X §, IlVTRODUCTIOSr. ^ 

A- 

and an office of petty details to pamper the vanity of the 
incumbent, to blazon official importance, and advance a 
system of disgraceful intrigue in and out of the army, 
whilst the ordnance, clothing, subsistence, inspectors, 
quarter-masters, hospital, and pay departments, are sub- 
jects little understood; nor can an accurate, comprehen- 
sive knowledge of those departments, be acquired but 
by education and experience, backed by attention and 
diligence. The pay department, if possible, the most de- 
fective and the most corrupt of all, I make no reference 
to the amiable, virtuous and respectable gentleman* at 
its head or his bureau ; it was deranged by General Knox 
in a moment of personal favouritism, about twenty-five 
years since, and we seem to have lost the art, however 
simple, to cure the defects, which would save an hundred 
thousand dollars expense, and would produce incredible 
effects on the morals, manners, police, discipline, com- 
fort, and health of the troops, subjects little understood, 
and perhaps less regarded ; under existing ordinances 
and arrangements, the commanding officers of compa- 
nies neither can nor ought to be strictly responsible for 
the fitness of their men in the various, moral, and physi- 
cal relations to the service. 

Should I be condemned for the unreserved liberty with 
which 1 have treated public men, measures, and institu- 
tions, I must seek justification under the most distin- 
guished writer of antiquity, who says, <« It is the first 
law of history that the writer should neither dare to ad- 
vance what is false, nor to suppress what is true ', that 
he should relate the facts with strict impartiality, free 
from ill will or favour ; that his narrative should distin- 
guish the order of time, and, when necessary, give the 
description of places ; that he should unfold the states- 

• Mr. Robert Brent, who conducts the oflfice under the forms in 
which he received it, with unquestionable integrity and marked ac^, 
commodation. 



INTRODUCTIOX. v^^ Xl 



man's motives', and in his accounts of the triansactioni?' 
and events, interpose his own judgment ; and should not 
onJy relate what was done, but how it was done, and 
what sliarc chance, or rashness, or prudence had in the 
issue : that he should give the characters of the leading 
men, their weight and influence, their passions, their 
principles, and conduct through life."* I had determined 
to fulfil these injunctions of the Roman patriot, but found 
my purpose arrested at the threshold by love of country, 
and the respect which is due to the honourable descend- 
ants of departed impostors ; and when the passions, prin- 
ciples, and conduct through life, of many men who occupy 
military and civil stations, were presented as proper 
subjects for my pen, it dropped from my hand. 

The political reflections which are scattered over these 
sheets, have been forced upon my mind by the unavoida- 
ble contrast of times past and present, and the rapid de- 
cline of the government, from the simplicity, purity, 
economy, and integrity, with which it has been adminis- 
tered within my knowledge ; and if I have manifested a 
strong repugnance to the encouragement of a military 
spirit, the augmentation of a standing army, and the 
maintenance of a cumbrous, expensive, useless staff, it 
is because such institutions tend to foster a spirit of am- 
bition and military glory, incompatible with free govern- 
ments; means produce ends; a large disciplined army 
and vaults filled with crorcnSf bequeathed by the iron-heart- 
ed Frederick William to his son Frederick the Great, 
-produced the first Silesian war; and so it will be witli the 
United States under similar circumstances, if the prevail- 
ing spirit of the times is indulged ; for with a greater 
extent of territory than is favourable to the genius of our 
government, the Canadas and Fioridas liave become 
objects of political cupidity ; and this thirst for dominion 
and our commercial rapacity, if not seasonably restrain- 

♦ CJcero, Oralion, Book. II. Sec. Ixii. Ixiii, 



XIV INTRODUCTlOJf. 

This contrast is neither strained nor affected ; it is 
drawn from natore, and does not exhibit an hundredth 
part of the heart-rending horrors of war, nor the divine 
blessings and tranquil enjoyments of peace. Of these 
truths we have abundant proofs in our own times, and in 
our country; with the good and the ill before them, I 
implore heaven so to direct the councils of the country, 
as long, very long to save it from the scourge of na- 
tions 'f and I will close these reflections with an applica- 
ble quotation from the writing of the sage, the patriot, 
and the Christian, John Dickinson, a citizen as eminent 
for wisdom, as he was conspicuous for private and social 
virtues. 

« It is a mournful but instructive study to read the his- 
tory of mankind. There we see their follies and their 
vices depicted at full length, accompanied by their mise- 
rable attendants. The prominent feature is an aptitude 
to plunge into warS' — • 

" For man, too haughty in a prosperous state, 
*' Is blind, and heedless to his future state." 

"A child may set fire to a house, but a whole city may 
not be able to prevent the conflagration from levelling the 
buildings in every street to the ground: ** Ruant omnes 
in sanguinem suam pojmli obstinatceque peritatis pcenas nunc 
sponte persolvunV — " All nations rush forward to the 
effusion of their own blood, and voluntarily pay the pe- 
nalties of their obstinate fierceness." 

It is an observation of antiquity, that " t/iey are happy 
who grow wise by the misfortunes of others." This direc- 
tion has been too little respected ; and men generally 
choose «to grow wise by their own misfortunes." But 
as truth is never the worse for being long neglected, I 
hope and trust that my beloved countrymen will exert 
the good sense they eminently possess, and stand upon 
the guard of prudence and affection for themselves and 
their posterity. 



INTRODUCTION. XV 

My name attaches responsibility to the works of my 
pen, which I shall explain or defend against the animad- 
versions of known characters ; and if I have been so un- 
fortunate as to have done injustice to any person, 1 shall 
proudly acknowledge the error, and abiase myself to the 
most implacable of my enemies ; but I must be permitted 
to treat anonymous comments or newspaper pasquinades 
as I have hitherto done, with silent indifference. 



MEMOIRS 



BY 



GENERAL WILKINSON 



CHAPTER I. 



Preliminary Obsei'valions. — Motives for writing memoirs. 
Summary of General Wilkinson^ s princijjles. — His satis- 
faction with his counti-y. — Consummation of a series of 
wrongs ascribed to Prcsideut Madison.-^Temper and 
principles unchanged by the vicissitudes of life. — His birth, 
— ^ brief account of his ancestors. — Loss of his father. — 
Capnce of fortune. — Some account of General Wilkinson* s 
relatives, and a glance at the state of society in 1768.— 
First excursion from home ; the sensations it jJroduced ; 
is relieved by the effects of novelty. — Diminutive size of 
Baltimore in 1770.' — Local attachments dissolved. — His 
education. — He arrives at Philadelphia^ where he first 
sees a vian under arms. — The impressiojis which it pro- 
duced. — Effects of social intercourse on the morals^ ^c. of 
individuals. — General Gage^s enterprise against the town 
of Concord, Massachusetts. ^Its effects on the citizens of 
Philadelphia. — General Wilkinson takes a decisive part 
in the revolution. — The siege of Boston. — The state of mo- 
ral feeling in 1775 contrasted with 1816 Good effects 

of the resolution displayed by the j^^'ovincialsf on the \7th 
vol. f. A 




S MEMOIRS BY 

CHAP. Junef 1775.-—Jpathy and inaction of the British com^ 
luander. — Comparative strength of the adverse forces.— 
Comparative influence of discipline and numbers, in mili- 
tarij operations. — Effects of the battle of Breed'' s Hill. — 
Forcer of the enemy. — His exertions would have affected 
the .American cause. — American council of war fortunate- 
hj rejects the proposition to attack Boston. — Letters of Ge- 
neral JVashington and General Greene. — Conduct of the 
British general contrasted with that of the .^imerican. — 
Possession of Dorchester Heights, and consequences. — The 
aidhor appointed Captain. — Enemy evacuates Boston. — 
Sketch ofBreed^s hill and the ruins of Charlestown. — First 
visit to Boston. — General Washington enters Boston. — 
Captain Wilkinson proceeds with General Greene for J^ew 
York. — Jlnecdote of Lord Howe. — Incident respecting 
Lieutenant Grover. — Reflections on military promotion. 
— On dismission from service, without accusation or 
trial. — On the recent conduct of Mr. Madison. — 0;? 
lite population and improvements of the country, and 
the progress of the government. — Appeal to the vigi- 
lance and integrity of the people. — Ordered to Canada. 
— Arrives at Albany — at Lake George — at St. John's. 
• — Joins .Arnold at La Chine. — T/ireatened by the Bri- 
tish major, Foster, who had taken the post at the Cedars. 
— Letter to General Greene, transmitted to Congress by 
General Washington. — Foster retreats, and is pursued. — 
— Conduct of Arnold at Fort St. Ann. — Convention with 
Foster. — Returns to Montreal, and leaves Colonel He 
Haas in command. — Be Haas disobeys orders, and rC' 
turns to Montreal. — Captain Wilkinson appointed aid-de- 
camp to Arnold. — Disobeys ArnoWs order t» seize the 
goods of the merchants of Montreal. — Despatched to So- 
rel,' — Meets General Carleton with the British army at Va- 
rennes. — Warns Arnold of his danger. — Ordered to Cham- 
Uec. — Condition in which he finds the army. — Arnold re- 
treats by La Frairie General Sullivan's alarm upon 

the appearance of Colonel Wayne's detachment — Army 
arrives at St. John's.^Gencral Arnold and Captain Wih 



GENERAL WILKINSON. 3 

Jdnson reconnoitre the road to ChamhlSe, and Jail in with 
the British advance. — Retreat and arrive at the Isle aiix 
JVoix. — Miraculous escape of the army. Rejlections on 
the conduct of Sir Guy Carleton, and the operations of the 
British army. — The probable result of a different conduct. 
— General Washington's apprehensions for the Canadian 
army. — Dishonourable conduct of General Arnold. — Cap- 
tain Wilkinson retires from General JirnohVs family. 

Some explanation of the views and the circumstances chap. 
under which these memoirs appear, is due to the public, y.^^-v-^^^ 

Every observer must have perceived, that in human 
affairs, period and place have an irresistible influence 
over the fortunes of men and nations ; that the circum- 
stance of being born teti or twenty years before or after 
a particular event, or at a place an hundred miles east or 
west of a particular spot, may give to the pursuits and 
fortunes of an individual, as different a direction as that 
of any two unconnected persons. The reader's own 
reflection's will apply the sejitiment to the geographical 
position of our country. The epocha in which it has 
been my fortune to have lived, may be considered in the 
magnitude and consequence of the events, to have ex- 
ceeded every preceding period of equal duration ; yet 
had the Revolution occurred twenty years sooner, it would 
have anticipated my birth and twenty years later, it would 
have found me in the tranquil pursuit of the profession 
for which I was intended,* in the first case I could not 
have participated tlie triumph of the thirteen British Co- « 
lonies, and in the last, I should not have ran the sainc 
ardent course which I shared with my youthful contem- 
poraries, though in common with them, I might have 
witnessed the sad abuse of liberty and independence, 
which has prematurely sullied the character of our young 
republic. 

The stations I have filled, the observations I have Motives 
made, and my intimacy with many eminent public cha- f°^' ^^i'- 

„ , . . , tinfftlwse 

racters, trom the dawn of the revolution to the present memoirs. 
day, enable me to throw many liglits on the events of my 
own times to correct some historical delusions j and to 



^ MEMOIRS BY 

CHAP place several distinguished characters on ground, where 
they may be viewed with more accuracy and justice than 
they hitherto have been; und possibly to draw forth others 
from that obscurity, in which artifice or envy, or the jea- 
lousy of ambition and power, has too successfully con- 
signed them for so long a time. 

Though sufficiently sensible of my deficiencies as an au- 
thor, and of the charge of vanity to which I may be ex- 
posed, in seeking public applause by my feeble pen; a ne- 
cessity more powerful than such apprehensions impels 
me to this appeal. Still, I should be wanting in candour, 
did I affect indifference to the favourable opinion of my 
countrymen and of posterity. 

But 1 owe it to my contemporaries, my family, and my 
name, that the truth should be faiily told, whenever a 
topic is touched, and that the same independence of mind 
should be preserved, as if these memoirs were written in 
a distant country, and were not to appear till after my 
death. 

Every man who enters into the trusts of a nation^ 
owes to it an account of the manner in which he has per- 
formed his duty. A service nf more than thirty years 
under innumerable vicissitudes, has been closed in a man- 
ner, which leaves it questionable with many, whether I 
have been the victim of my own misconduct, or of minis- 
terial perfidy — of private intrigue, or gross and vindic- 
tive persecution ; which last has been the too frequent fate 
of the most faithful and disinterested men in all ages, and 
under every form of government, although the reproach 
of such conduct has been particularly attributed to re- 
publics. 

Looking upon myself, at the close of a long agency, 
as accountable to the great republican family of which I 
am a member, and aware how liable the actions and cha- 
racters of men are to be discoloured by misrepresenta- 
tions, these memoirs will serve to make the community 
better acquainted with the transactions in which 1 have 
been concerned, and the mode in which I discharged my 
public dlity, than personal prejudice anjl powerful in- 



GENERAL WILKINSON. 

fluencc have hitherto permitted. Having filled various CHAP, 
liigh trusts, and been frequently and successfully em- *' 
ployed in many affairs of great public importance, it will 
not be impci'tinent nor improper, to give such an account 
of my family, and the circumstances of my earlier years, 
as shall leave nothing for enquiry on those subjects. 

In reviewing my past life, there does not appear to me 
any thing for remorse, and but little for repentance; 
though certainly very much for regret. My transgres- 
sions against the laws of my Creator have been too 
many, but they have been venial; and I trust have found 
their remission in a contrite heart. The principles of re- 
ligion instilled into me by a pious protestant mother, 
have always been alive in my bosom ; and the political 
creed I imbibed in the cradle of the revolution, has form- 
ed the undeviating rules of my conduct, under every 
change of power and vicissitude of fortune. I have lived 
in the service of my country, to which my life, labours, 
and best faculties have been zealously devoted, to the en- 
tire neglect of my private affairs. I have suffered many 
and grievous persecutions, alike unprovoked and unme- 
rited, which were frequently produced by the most meri- 
torious acts of my life. 

The patrons and associates of my early youth (among 
whom I feel some pride in numbering the late Colonel 
William Fitzhugh of Maryland, to whose memory I feel 
a sincere pleasure in offering this tribute of gratitude,) 
were men of elevated sentiment, who «« 7vorshipped honour 
as ureal good,^' and taught me to respect it as tlie richest 
inlieritance. From such associations I learned to avoid 
particular vices, and to form ray principles on foundations 
which have supported and consoled me, with cheerful 
health and a warm heart, at a period of life when others 
are sinking under disease and despondency. With a san- 
guine temperament and ardent affections, feeling has pre- 
vailed more than judgment, in directing my career, and 
fame has presented allurements more inviting to me than 
that fortune, without which, in the present times, virtue 
and merit mucli more exalted must become a frail do- 



MEMOIRS BY 



CHAP 
I 



He owes 
every 
thing' to 
his coun- 
try, and 
can re- 
proncii it 
with no- 
liJiing. 



His 

wrongs 
ascril)ed 
to Presi- 
dent Ma- 
dison. 



pendence. Perhaps I have been too confiding, or not 
sufficiently mistnistful of mankind, particularly of men 
invested with delegated power, which they are too apt to 
convert to their own uses or abuses. 

The justice of a nation is too often confounded with 
the acts of its agents, and the character of a government 
may be compromised by a weak or corrupt administra- 
tion, contrary to the sen.se of tlie nation. It is perhaps 
to this perversion of authority, the frequent changes ob- 
servable in other governments may be attribute!, and 
points out the peculiar necessity of vigilance and reform 
in our own : therefore, when speaking of my personal 
wrongs, I disclaim all intention of reproaching my fellow 
citizens, the vast majority of whom are still innocent, 
honest, generous, and just. I certainly looked to the jus- 
tice of the government for protection in my old age, after 
a life of services wluch have been acknowledged by the 
heroes and sages of the revolution. I could not suspect 
that to propitiate the concealed vengeance, which lurked 
under the affected clemency and justice of President Ma- 
dison, I should have been sacrificed to make room for 
panders and sycophants, many of them distinguished only 
for moral turpitude, and unworthy of public trust, I was 
deceived, and, after passing my grand climacteric, have 
been despoiled of my hard-earned military fortune, and 
am left with the consciousness of what I have done, and 
what I have sufTcrcd, for the republic, as a recompense 
for the devotion of my life to her service. 

Were it pardonable to compare where we cannot emu- 
late, I should say with the great Phocion, «< that the same 
evil fortune which combats against worthy men, ojten pro- 
duces complaints^ reproaches and calumnies^ instead of those 
honours and recompenses rvhich they merit by their labours, 
and thus diminishes that confidence to which their virtue is 
entitled.''^ Habituated from my birth to social refinements 
ai^d the luxuries of the table, except when professional 
(Tfitios required self-denial, those who knew me only by 
the exterior, believed that penury and privations would 
affect my repose. Sucli illusions are natural to tlic irre- 



GENERAL WILKINSON. 7. 

solute and effeminate; but as my mind has never been chap. 
beguiled by prosperity, so its firmness cannot be shaken ^' 
by adversity; and I now feel more pride, independence, and 
true dignity, in conforming my life to my circumstances, 
than I ever experienced at the head of a column glitter- 
ing in arms. 

Bowing myself submissively before the Most High, 
without a murmur at his decrees, I present these memoirs 
of my own times, as an segis to that enmity and calumny 
which, having pursued me in so many forms, cannot be 
expected to refrain from the feast presented by these vo- 
lumes. But should they furnish a salutary lesson to my 
contemporaries or posterity — should my misfortunes oi* 
my errors prove useful, and the enmity which I have ex- 
perienced serve as a beacon to other men, I shall feel per- 
fectly recompensed. 

If the accidental circumstance of birth can found a His bhili, 
jlaini to gratitude, the urbane, loyal, generous, gallant tfon'foi.^" 
state of Maryland, has a right to draw upon my affec- his native 
tions without limitation. I was born in Calvert county, ^ ^ ^' 
and have always gloried in my natale solum. The place 
of my nativity is near Patuxent river, about three miles 
from a decayed village,* rendered conspicuous by the 
debarkation of the British detachment under command 
of Major-general Ross, the 18th of August, 181i, which 
sacked and conflagrated the national edifices at the city 
of Washington. 

As we cannot choose our parents, and all enter the 
world in the same helpless condition, it seems natural 
that little account should be made of family ; yet, to anti- 
cipate curiosity, and to forestal enquiry, I hope 1 may be 
permitted to introduce my ancestors to the reader, with- 
out incurring the suspicion of affectation or vanity. 

From the testamentsf of my ancestors Robert Skinner, AbiWfar. 
Thomas Holdsworth, James Heighc, and Joseph Wilkin- hjsairees* 

* Benedict, on the right bank of the river Patuxent, called, after 
4he Christian name of one of the barons of Eultiniorc, who vcre thn 
proprietors of the province. 

t See Appendix, Nos. I. H. HI. ami IV. 



S MEMOIRS BY 

CHAP, son, it will appear that my family is ancient and respec- 

^^^,^^;,^^ table; they were all from England; and the three first 

tors and emigrated to the province of Maryland in the 16th cen- 

theirresi- tury, probably whilst the site of Fhiladelphia, now the first 
(Icncc 

citij of the United States, was still covered with its native 

woods. I know little more of my paternal grandfather 
than Lis will records; he was a commercial man, emi- 
grated from London to Maryland in iri29, married a 
daiigliter of William Skinner, M. D. and in consequence 
of ill health, returned to England in 173*, where he soon 
after died, and according to his brother-in-law and phy- 
sician, William Skinner, who accompanied him, was bu- 
ried in St. Paul's church yard, London. The active de- 
sultory engagements of my life, have prevented further 
enquiry after this branch of my family. 

My ancestors originally settled on a tongue of land, 
formed by Chesapeake bay and Patuxent river, where 
my numerous relations still reside, and maintain the most 
respectable standing in society; they have declined in 
general political inSuence, yet united have a great pre- 
ponderance in the politics of the county. This tract, 
remote from great public thoroughfares, and highways, 
secludes its inhabitants from general intercourse with the 
world ; simplicity of manners and innocence of charac- 
ter, are of course preserved, and their hospitality is of 
the heart, untinctured with ostentation or sordid inte- 
rests, and but for the political feuds which divide them, 
there could not be found in the whole union a more libe- 
ral, a less ambitious, a kinder or happier community. 
The loss I had the misfortune to lose my father before I had 
father reached my seventh year. He paid the debt of nature 
the 4th of May, 1764, in the thirty-third yeai' of his age, 
after a slmrt illness. 1 recollect perfectly the circum- 
stances of his death and funeral. He was beloved by his 
acquaintance, and his loss cast a gloom over his neigh- 
bourhood. His last words to me were graven on my me- 
mory, and have been ever associated with my remeni-^ 
brance of him : " My son, if you ever put up with an inr 
suit, I w ill disinherit you.'' I mention this trivial cir- 



GENERAIi WILKINSON. 9 

cumstancc, ^ the hope that respect to the injunctions of chap. 
a lather may extenuate some errors of my life. He was ^' 
taken ill the same niejht, and never rose from his bed. I ., .• 

'-' ' caprice oi 

trust 1 may be excused for mentioning another incident, fortune. 
which deeply interested the fortunes of my family : — My 
father, to preserve his health and increase his property, 
purchased 500 acres of land lying on the Tyber and Po- 
tomack, which probably coiiiprehends the President's 
house; but at that time, about 1762, the present seat of 
government v, as considered so remote from the early set- 
tlements of the province, that my mother objected to the 
removal on account of the distance, aud my father trans- 
ferred the property to Thomas Joluis, esq. a friend and 
contemporary, of his neighbourhoo(], to whose family it 
proved an auspicious contract; but, in this case, the be- 
nefactor did not long enjoy the prosperity lie had pro- 
moted. 

I am the second of four children ; my sisters, who are Some ac- 
iunior to me, still live, and are married to Edward Rev- f"'*"^ 

'' ' >■ nis irnme- 

iiolds, and James Morse), esquires, both of my native c.jun- diatereU- 
tyt men of respectability and fortune : my brother. Gene- a ^ance 
ral Joseph Wilkinson, in the enjoyment of ease and inde- ^^ the 
pendence, continues to reside near t!(C spot of our birth, sodety in 
respected and beloved for his integrity and benevolence, ''^759. 
in spite of tlie political strife, wliich forms the atmos- 
phere of republics, and divides almost equally the pre- 
eminent state of Maryland. 

I rcmon-iher that I wept for the loss of my father; hut 
the misfortune was compensated, as far as it could be, fay 
the fostering care of a noble-minded mother, to whose ex- 
cellent understanding, tender care, and virtuous precepts, 
I am indebted for a sonnd constitution, my sense of jus- 
tice, and of the Christian faith. 

In the times of which I write, there were but two se- 
minaries of learning in the three contiguous provinces ; 
viz. tlie college of William anc', Mary in Virginia, incor- 
porated in I6li.', and the college, academy, and charity 
bchool of Philadelphia, incorporated in 1753. There was 
VOL. I. B 



10 MEMOIRS BY 

CHAP, very little intercourse in those days between the colo- 
nists ; comtbrts and even necessaries were imported from 
the mother country ; but by the dispersion of stores and 
magazines over the southern provinces, every man was 
supplied with the productions of Europe near his door. 

A journey of two hundred miles, within my remem- 
brance, was viewed as a more distant and perilous adven- 
ture, than a voyage to China at this time ; my honoured 
mother might, therefore, be excused for considering 
Georgetown, now the district of Columbia and the seat 
of empire, about forty miles distant from her residence, 
with the intervention of a large river, the back woods 
or frontier settlement of Maryland. 

I could recite a hundred youthful incidents, which in- 
dicated the enterprise and activity of my future life, but 
they would be of little interest to my readers. My first 
excursion was to the town of Baltimore, for the purpose 
of being inoculated for the small-pox. This disease in 
tbe natural way, was as frightful in those days as the 
plague in London in the year 1665, and inoculation was 
considered an occult art, professed at that period in the 
southern states by a Doctor Stevenson only, who by his 
success acquired great celebrity. 
His first It was my first absence from the neighbourhood of my 
excursion j^^tivc domicile, tlie first separation from my only parent 
home. whom I worsliipped, and the emotions produced still vi- 
brate on my heart; as soon as my horse had passed the 
bounds of my former rides, my bosom was affected by 
sensations I had never before experienced; my gaiety 
forsook me, and my young heart was distended with 
anxiety : I had left behind me every thing I loved, and 
Gould attach no interest to what was before me ; seventy 
miles appeared an endless journey; at every step the 
chords of my alTections were strained, and at the ap- 
' proach of sunset, I would have given the world to return 
home. I was, however, under the guidance of a protec- 
tor, and obliged to prosecute my journey; but as I ap- 
proached Baltimore, my youtliful mind was attracted by 
the novelties, which the place even then presented ; and 



GENERAL WILKINSON. 11 

when I entered Market street, extending from Gay street CHAP. 
to a short distance west of Calvert street, I thought my- ^^^^.^^^^ 
self transported to another region. The active scenes of m^ninu- 
husiness, the commixture, passage and re-passage, oftivesize 
men, women and children, wagons, drays, carts, dogs °ownV 
and horses, and the numerous tawdry signs swinging i^^^^'- . 

., , , t' , • .• 1 . more, in 

over the street, excited a degree ot admiration and asto- 1770. 
nishment, which abated my solicitude for what I liad left 
behind. Sweet ductility of the human mind! wisely or- 
dained by a beneficent Creator to dissipate the cares, to 
soothe the sorrow's, and blunt the edge of afflictions 
which « man is heir to." 

There were then but few buildings north of the creek 
which now divides the city^ and to reach Stevenson's 
folly, for such was the reproachful designation applied to 
the doctor's unfinished mansion, because it was some- 
what more conspicuous than those of his neighbours, it 
was necessary to cross a common of near half a mile. 

The class with which I was inoculated, consisted of 
John Custis and James Wormley of Virginia, James and 
Perry Frizby of Maryland, with half a dozen other 
young gentlemen from the southern provinces, of whom, 
I believe, I am the only survivor. Feeling no apprehen- 
sion from the disease, I paid little respect to the pre- 
scribed regimen; and although my physician frequently 
attempted to alarm me, by exclaiming, " Foung gentle- 
man, by Jasus, you will be peppered,^' I escaped with a 
slight eruptive fever, and was marked by a single pus- 
tule. 

The amusements into which I entered with my new- 
companions employed all my time, and the natural gaiety 
of my disposition, conspiring with the diversions by 
which I was encompassed, had so far silenced my par- 
tiality for the scenes of my birth place, that at the cud 
of two months, 1 felt some reluctance in willulrawiiig 
from the attractions of Baltimore town. Thus were the 
bonds of local attachment rent ; the walnut and tlie cedar 
and the cherry trees, under whose sliade I had sported — > 
the lawn on which I had gambolled, and the limpid loiin- 



4g MEMOmS BY 

CHAP, tain from which I had drank, no longer delighted my re- 
*■ collection, and the sweetest ligaments of human affec- 
tions were hroken. 
General n would be unnecessary to say, my education was su- 
son'sedu- pcrficial, because the reader vvili have abundant proofs 
cation. Qf i\^q, f^ft. J j-ead the Latin classics, and studied the 
inferior branches of the mathematics, under William 
Hunter, a private tutor, and a graduate of the university 
of Glasgow. I was taken too early from school, and put 
to the study of medicitio under my relation Dr. John 
Bond, an elSve of his uncle Dr. Tliomas Bond, formerly 
of Piiiladt Iphia. This gentleman had served in a provin- 
cial regiment on the borders of Canada, di:ring the war 
of 1756, and like an old soldier, took pleasure in recount- 
ing the details of battlti?:, particularly Braddock's defeat 
near Pittsburgh, and Wolfe's victory on the plains of 
Abraljam ; and to this circumstance I ascribe my earliest 
military predilections. 
I« sent 10 In my seventeeth year, my honoured mother sent me 
plui'"^'^^ to the medical school in Philadelpliia. I ascended the 
Chcseivcak from Plump point, the seat of my maternal 
grandmother Heighe, to Perch creek, from whence I 
crossed the isthmus to Hamburgh, and ascended the De- 
laware to Philadelphia, which at that time was tJje most 
prompt and convenient route of communication ; I ar- 
rived in the evening, and understanding a detachment of 
soldiers were quartered in the northei'n liberties, I the 
next day visited the barracks, where four companies of\ 
the 18th or Royal Irish regiment of infantry, and a com- 
pany of Royal artillery were stationed. On approacliing 
tJic gate, for the first time in my life I beheld a man un- 
der arms, in complete uniform; he was acentinel on post, 
whose appearance rivetted my attention: after surveying 
him attentively from head to foot, I passed without ob- 
struction and entered the barrack yard, where t!ic first, 
and I may say only, object tliat struck my eyes, was the 
ti'oops on parade at open order, which exhibited a more 
impressive spectacle than I had ever seen; indeed, I was 
fascinated, and gazed with astonishment at the prompt- 



GENERAL WILKINSON. ' 13 

ness and uniformity of the manual exercise which they CHAP, 
performed; but when the ranks were closed, and the '^' 
line was wlieeled into column, — marched, — recovered its 
ground, — closed and displayed, I was struck with the 
idea of a painted wall, broken in pieces and put in mo- 
tion; it appeared like enchantment, and my bosom throb- 
bed with delight; my feelings were now inlisted — the 
latent propensities which had been excited by my relation 
Doctor Bond, were awakened — and from that day I felt 
the strongest inclinations to military life. I continued in 
Philadelphia from 1773 to 1775, at which time the medi- 
cal class exceeded sixty, of whom Doctor Read of 
Charleston, is the only surviving acquaintance within 
my recollection. Wiiilst pursuing my studies, I sought, 
by imitating the best examples, to acquire gracefulness of 
address and ease of manners, and these inclinations were 
seconded by my solicitude, to merit the acquaintance of 
the most accomplished and respectable of the fair sex, 
whose ages corresponded with my own. This conduct 
was not in strict unison with the taste of all my class- 
mates, and exposed me to sarcasms that terminated in an 
adventure, whieh left me to the free exercise of my own 
discretion; and to the connexions formed at that period, 
I owe the insuperable aversion I have ever had to liber- 
tinism and profligate dissipation ; although no man ever 
indulged more freely, or tasted more exquisitely, those 
refined enjoyments which spring out of the reciprocities 
of congenial spirits, and the intercourses of virtuous sen- 
sibility. 

My acquaintance with Major Hamilton, Captain Hamil- 
ton, Lieutenants Blackwood, Bruyere, Trist and other 
officers of the Royal Irish, was not favourable to my pro- 
fessional studies, but it was extremely grateful to my 
taste; and if the contest which commenced in 1775, had 
not taken place, it is highly possible I might have lived 
and died in the British service. 

In the spring of 177i I made a visit to New York, 
where I became acquainted with Thomas Barclay, Be- 



iii 



MEMOIRS BY 



CHAP. 
I. 



General 
Gage's en- 
terprise 
against 
Concord. 



Gciicral 
Wilkinson 
com- 
mences 
the prac- 
tice of 
medicine. 



verly Robinson, Frederick Philips, Steven "Watts,* and 
several other young gentlemen, with whom I parted in 
the revolution, but for whom I shall cherish unceasing 
respect and esteem, because they interested my early af- 
fections, and have grown grey in honour. At the same 
period, I formed an acquaintance with Morgan Lewis, 
and William Smith, who took active parts in the revolu- 
tionary war, deserve the favour of their country, and will 
enjoy my respect and affection while life endures. 

The abortive enterprise of General Gage against the 
town of Concord in Massachusetts, on the 19th of April, 
1775, was unwise and unnecessary^ diminutive in its ob- 
jects, but important in its consequences. When the re- 
port of this act of open hostility reached Philadclplua, 
the deepest gloom overcast the whole population ; the 
blow was sudden and unexpected ; the sword had been 
drawn; blood had been spilt; and lives had been lost. 
The citizens were seen assembled in crowds at the cor- 
ners of the streets ; alarm and terror were excited; but 
the bitter animosities of civil contest still slumbered; the 
whole city exhibited a scene of funereal gloom and still- 
ness ; men spoke in whispers, as if afraid of being over- 
heard, and the solemn peal which issued from the bells of 
Christ church, gave to the conjuncture an air of mourn- 
ful solemnity, and oppressed with sorrow the unoffending 
loyal subjects of the largest city in British America. But 
this submission was short-lived; it soon gave way to in- 
dignation, resentment, and denunciations. 

About the period of this memorable event I return- 
ed to Maryland, and sat down in the practice of medicine 
near the confluence of the Potomack and Monocacy rivers. 
But the affair of the 4.9th of April, had produced a genc- 

* He entered the service of his sovereign, and was desperately 
wounded in the affair of General Herkimer on the Mohawk river, be- 
tween the Oriska village and Fort Schuyler, and was left on the field 
of battle, where he lay several days in agony, before he was discover- 
ed and relieved; and I understand died not long since in England. 
My pen cannot add to the r«spectability of the other gentlemen. 



GENERAL WILKINSON. 15 

ral spirit of resistance throughout the colonies, and the CHAP, 
preparations were correspondent with the general feel- '' 
ings. My youth had not allowed me time or means, to 
investigate the merits of the controversy : my impressions 
I received from the highest source of wisdom and virtue, 
from those dignified sages of the country, who composed 
the first Congress; whose policy was seconded by my 
feelings, and supported by that predilection for arms 
which I had previously imbibed. 

I claim no credit for the part I took, when, with a Takes a 
burst of enthusiasm, the recollection of which warms my p^^l j^ f^- 
lieart with self-applause, I declared for my native coun- '^o"'" ^^ 

the revo* 

try, and bound my destiny to hers. It was, in truth, an uuion. 
impulse which characterised the times. The united co- 
lonies exhibited, in those days, a spectacle awful indeed 
to usurpers, but charming to the friends of civil liberty; 
of a whole people rising with one accord, to claim the 
right of self government, wliich man derives from his 
Creator : — If indecision was known at all, it was the mo- 
mentary pause of Ctesar at the Rubicon. The feelings 
of ordinary men were elevated to grandeur, and all 
classes felt themselves ennobled by a contest for liberty. 

I made my noviciate in arms and first shouldered a 
firelock in Georgetown,* Potomack, having associated 
myself witli an independent company, commanded by 
Captain Thomas Richardson, a Quaker, from Rhode 
Island, in which tlie meritorious, unfortunate General 
Lingan, who a few years ago fell a victim to the politi- 
cal feuds which disfigure our country, was a subaltern. 
This company was drilled once a week, and the ground 
of parade was a small spot of table land, hanging over 
Rock creek, below the upper bridge. I resided tliirty 
miles from the place of parade, but was punctual to the 
rendezvous. 

In this temper of the colonists, the deliberate attack df 
the provincials at Breed's hill, the irth of June, und«n* 
the orders of General Gage, became the signal for a ge- 

r 

• Now the District of Columbia. 



16 MEMOIRS BY 

CHAP, neral appeal to arms, and determined the Congress to 
'• act upon the offensive ; troops were levied ; the town of 
Boston invested ; and General Washington appointed 
commander in chief. These incidents excited my natu- 
ral ardour, and determined me not to await the tardy 
proceedings of committees and conventions, then engaged 
in organising a regiment, afterwards commanded by Co- 
lonel William Smallwood ; but, unrestrained by the ad- 
monitions of friends and relations, I abandoned my pro- 
fession for ever, and at my own expense repaired to the 
camp before Boston, in September, and as a volunteer, 
joined the rifle corps under the gallant Colonel William 
Thompson of Pennsylvania. 

On entering the camp near Boston, I was struck with 
the familiarity which prevailed among the soldiers and 
officers of all ranks ; from the colonel to the private, I 
observed but little distinction; and J. could not refrain 
from remarking, to the young gentlemen with whom I 
made acquaintance, that the military discipline of their 
troops was not so conspicuous as the civil subordination 
of the community in which I had lived. 
The siege The siege of Boston was attended by no signal occur- 
of Boston, rence; the '* investissement" was as complete as the na- 
ture of the ground, and tlie extent of the lines of circum- 
vallation, would permit. I cannot amuse the reader with 
intrepid sorties nor desperate assaults, but I will endea- 
vour to instruct him, by an illustration of the effects of 
The sym. habit on the human mind, drawn from a contrast of the 
pathiesof sensibility of that day with the insensibility of the pre- 
trasted Sent. The provincials broke ground at Plowed hill, Au- 
'^}^}V'}l°^^ ffust26th, about one mile north west, and in front, of the 

of lolo. "^ ^' 

British post at Bunker's hill, on the peninsula of Charles- 
town. A detachment of riflemen, ordered to cover the 
working party, took post in an orchard, and under cover 
of stone fences in advance. As soon as the enemy dis- 
covered the workmen, they opened a battery upon tlieni, 
and kept up a brisk cannonade, by which volunteer 
Simpson, of Pennsylvania, had one of his heels and an- 
cles so much shattered, that a mortification ensued, and 



GENERAL WILKINSON. IJ' 

he died in a few days. This young man was visited and chap. 
consoled during his illness, by General Washington in ^' 
person, and by most of the officers of rank belonging to 
the army. Every exertion of the faculty was made to 
save him, and his death became a theme of common sor- 
row in an army of twelve or fourteen thousand men. I 
witnessed the effect on my arrival, two or three weeks 
after. 

On another occasion, Nov. 10th, the enemy, availing 
himself of a high tide that inundated a causeway which 
connects Lechmore point with the main, crossed Charles 
river, and debarked a detachment to carry off several 
cattle which were feeding on the insulated spot. As soon 
as this movement was discovered, the rifle corps was or- 
dered to dislodge the marauders, and forded on the cause- 
way waist deep: but the enemy perceiving our determi- 
nation, retired to their boats, and were out of the range 
of musket shot before we reached the point of their de- 
barkation. A sloop of war which lay in the river open- 
ed her batteries on us ; and a private soldier in a recum- 
bent posture, was grazed on the ribs by a grape shot, 
which lacerated the muscular and intercostal integuments 
in such a manner, as to leave the appearance of an aper- 
ture into the cavity of his body, by which the faculty con- 
cluded the ball had entered, and of course the life of the 
poor soldier was despaired of. The solicitude of the 
corps, from the colonel to the ranks, was so strongly ex- 
cited by the hopeless condition of this man, as to affect 
the repose of the camp ; and if money could have as- 
sured his recovery, the fortunes of the corps would 
have been pledged : contrary, however, to all calcu- 
lations, the wounded soldier breakfasted heartily the 
next morning, and in spite of the predictions of the sur- 
geons, to the great satisfaction of his officers and com- 
rades, was on his legs in a week, and at duty in a 
month. 

Compare the general sympathy and fellow feeling ma- 
nifested in the case of these iiumble individuals, at the camp 
before Boston in the year 1775, with the unheeded scenes 
VOL. I. C 



48 MEMOIRS BY 

CHAP, of senseless slaughter, which we have recently beheld, 
wherein the blood of thousands of brave men has been 
wantonly wasted, to promote the ambitious views of in- 
dividuals, and establish a character for national courage, 
w hich liad been most solemnly recorded with the blood of 
the enemy almost half a century ago — in the triumphs of 
Trenton, of Princeton, of Saratoga, of Monmouth, of 
King's mountain, of Stoney point, of Powles hook, of 
the Cowpens, of Yorktown, of Eutaw, and many other 
places; and I will appeal to the casuist and the philoso- 
pher to decide, whether the character of our country has 
improved or deteriorated in the mild virtues, which form 
the sweetest traits of human character, and most effec- 
tually promote the happiness of mankind. 

The resolution displayed by the provincials on the 17th 
of June, 1775, produced effects auspicious to the Ameri- 
can cause, and co-extensive with the war; for although 
compelled by superior numbers to yield the ground, the 
obstinacy of their resistance put an end to that confidence 
with which they had been first attacked, and producett 
measures of caution bordering on timidity. Such are the 
illusions to which enlightend man is subject. There can 
be no doubt, that we were indebted to these causes for the 
unmolested occupancy of our position before Boston, 
which to complete the investissement was necessarily ex- 
tended from Roxbury on the right, to Mystic river on the 
left, a rectilinear distance of about four miles, but by the 
only practicable route at least three leagues. The town 
of Boston is situate on a peninsula, united to the main 
at Roxbury on the ^outh, by a narrow tongue of land, 
about a mile in length, which opened directly upon our 
extreme right. On the north, it is separated from 
the peninsula of Charlestown by Charles' river, half 
a mile wide. This peninsula is connected with the con- 
tinent, by a short narrow causeway immediately under 
Bunker's hill, from whence there is a convenient and 
prompt communication of three quarters of a mile to 
Plowed hill, our extreme left, and a main road leading 
•t« oHV head quarters at Cambridge, two miles distant. 



GENERAL WILKINSON. iQ 

These avenues being defended by strong works, difficult chap. 
of access, the relative position of the two armies put it 
in the power of the British commander, to concentrate i,^^(,tm„ of 
his main force at eitlier extremity of his line, and carry V'*^ '^'''* 
an attack against our right or left at his discretion ; in mander. " 
which he must have been successful, because he could 
have masked his movements, taken us by surprise, and 
beaten us in detail — our force being unavoidably too 
widely extended, and too much scattered for seasonable 
co-operation. These opinions are not the conceptions of 
the present moment; they are founded on the relative 
position and tlie comparative strength of the adverse 
corps, as viewed at the period, and will bear the strict- 
est scrutiny. 

The British army under General Gage in Boston, con- Compai-a- 

live 

sisted of twenty regiments* of the line, which ought not strength 
to be estimated at less than 10,000 men,f as he had suf- of the 

&clvei'S& 

fered no diminution of his force but in the affairs of Lex- corps. 
ington:}: and Breed's hill,§ and in those his loss could not 
have exceeded seven hundred, even if we admit one-third 
of liis wounded to have died, which is an undue propor- 
tion in a combat of small arms. The continental army, 
of which General Washington took the command at Cam- 
bridge, July 3d, 1776, was rated at 14,500 militia,]) with- 
out a shade of uniformity in its organization, pay, dress, 
arms, or exercise; destitute of subordination and disci- 
pline, and fluctuating from day to day, as the caprice of 

* General Washington's letter to the President of Contjress, Jan. 
4th, 1776. 

t The Annual Register, vol. xix. p. 151, adverting to the evacuatioH 
of Boston, March 17th, 1776, almost nine months after General Wash- 
ington look the command at Cambridge, says the army did not exceed 
at that time 9000 healthy and effective men ; to which of sick, con\a- 
lescent, seamen, and loyalists, 2000 might fairly be added. 

\ On the 19th of April, the British had 208 wounded, 65 killed, and 
20 made prisoners, all ranks included. 

§ On the 17th of June, they had 828 wounded, and 226 killed. An- 
imal Register, vol. xviii. p. 128—135. 

I) Gordon's History, vol. i. p. 3G7. 



20 MEMOIRS BY 

CHAP, the men inclincil tbem, to absent themselves or to rejoin 
^' their colours. At a later period, the General's command 
was reduced to 9,600 men. This might be considered 
the numerical force of the two armies; but effective mili- 
tary strength consists not so much in numbers, as in exact 
discipline and judicious appointments. In battles which 
depend on professional skill and experience, numbers 
without discipline, produce disorder, panic, and defeat. 
Our men, who were more than a match for the enemy 
in disorderly skirmishes, or behind breast-works and 
other impediments, when brought into regular action in 
open space, would have been overwhelmed by their own 
confusion. Besides, in the month of August, the car- 
tridges in the men's boxes,* together with the powderf 
in magazine, would not have sufficed for twenty-four 
rounds a man; and the artillery was so badly supplied, 
throughout the siege, that t!ie General dared not employ 
his batteries against the town, but partially and spa- 
ringly. 
Efllects of To the cool courage and obstinacy displayed in the 

the battle ^jj^ttle of Breed's hill, and the moral influence of the 

ofKreeus 

hill. bloody lesson, which Sir William IIowc received on that 

day, we must ascribe the military phenomenon, of a mot- 
ley band of undisciplined American yeomanry, scarcely 
superior in number, holding an army of British vete- 
rans, in close siege for nine months ; and hence it 
migiit fairly be inferred, that our independence was es- 
sentially promoted by the consequence of this single 
battle. The firmness, prudence, and vigilance, of Ge- 
neral Washington, and the general officers associated 
with him, were well adapted to profit by these first ad- 
Towrv vantages. But, if while we lay at Cambridge, the enemy 

o* *^*^ had advanced against us from Boston, we sliould have 

enemy. '^ 

been beaten and dispersed; our artillery and munitions 
of war must have been captured; and the public conli- 

* General Waslilngton's letter, Jan. 30th, 1776. He di"cl not allow 
the men to have more tlian twelve or fifteen cartridg-es at a time. 
f General Washington's letter, Aug-. 4th, 1775, 



GENERAL WILKINSON. SI 

tlence would have been withdrawn from the only man CHAP, 
capable of conciliating local habits and prejudices, and y^^..,^,^,^ 
harmonizing the discordant materials of which the army 
of 1776 was composed ; or if the army had been with- 
drawn from the position in which General "Washington 
found it, the effect would have been the same : indeed, 
under the favourable auspices of the season, the impa- 
tience and caprice which form predominant traits in the 
character of my countrymen, had generated some discon- 
tents and murmurs against General Washington, for his 
supposed inactivity before Boston. This fact, among a 
thousand others, shows how difficult it is at a distance to 
judge of the conduct of men entrusted with military ope- 
rations. The public did not know at that time, that the 
enemy possessed the power to dislodge the General at 
their discretion; and that he was disposed to hazard the 
desperate enterprize, of attacking the town in batteaux 
by water from Cambridge river. But his plan was reject- Proposi- 
ed by a council of war, which frustrated his purposes, for- J^°k Bos- 
tun ately for his fame and for the country; as the sta-ton, re- 
tionary batteries of the enemy in A¥est Boston, indepen- coum:il"of 
dent of his light train, would have prevented our fragile war. 
transports from reaching the powder house or Barton's 
point, tlie meditated points of debarkation, and forced us 
to attempt a landing at the common, on a flat shore under 
a low bank, enfiladed from Boston neck, and in the face of 
at least forty pieces of field artillery, which would pro- 
bably have destroyed us without the co-operation of small 
arms. The perilous circumstances of our situation about 
that time, is well described by General Washington in his 
letters of January, 1796. On the first day of that month, 
the commander in chief addressed the President of Con- 
gress in the following language : " It is not perhaps in the 
2W~vcr of history to furnish a case like ours — to maintain a 
post within musket shot of the enemy, for six months toge- 
ther, without [poivder]; and at the savie time to disband one 
army and recruit another, icithin that distance, of twenty 



g3 MEMOIRS BY 

CHAP, odd British regiments, is more than probably was ever at- 
'■ tempted;" and General Greene* writes his friend from 
Prospect hill, Jan. 4th, 1776, f* Our situation has been cri- 
tical; we have no part of the militia on this hill, and the 
night after the old troops went off, I could not have muster' 
«d 700 men, notwithstanding the returns of the new inlist- 
ments amount to 1900 and upwards" 

That this account of our critical and distressful situa- 
tion during the siege of Boston is not exaggerated, and 
that we owed our safety to the supineness of Sir William 
Howe, I will here introduce an authority above contro- 
versy ; because, if the standing of the writer did not sanc- 
tion his reports, the natural style and unaffected manner 
in which he details obvious truths and painful apprehen- 
sions, would carry conviction to the heart of incredulity 
itself: at the same time, I take unfeigned pleasure in of- 
fering this confidential communication of General Wash- 
ington to the world, as a mirror in which the heart and 
the head of the man are seen, without affectation and 
without disguise: I with pride present it as a testimonial 
of his discernment, his vigilance, his candour, magnani- 
mity and patriotism, which speaks more for his great- 
ness and Ills virtues, than volumes of servile adulation 
or inflated panegyric, and must be received among the 
brightest and most durable ornaments which can decorate 
the history of our country. When we review the patience, 
the perseverance, the equanimity the undeviating con- 
sistency and inflexible resolution of this patriot, in pros- 
perity and adversity, and compare him with the political 
l)igmics of the present day, " who solely intent to bless 
themselves," clamber up the heights of ambition, regard- 
less of the means, and look down with disdain on the au- 
thors of their elevation, we may turn with shame and hu- 
miliation from the disgusting contrast, and may well ex- 
claim, « From what high hopes, to what relapse ujilooked 
for, have we fallen." 

* See Gordon. 



CHAP. 



GENERAL WILKINSON. @3 

« Cambridge, lith Jan. 1770. , 

« Dear Sir, 

« The bearer presents an opportunity to me, of ac- 
knowledging the receipt of your favour of the 30th ulti- 
mo, (which never came to my hands till last night) and, 
if I have not done it before, of your other of the 23d pre- 
ceding. 

« The hints you have communicatetl from time to time, 
not only deserve but do most sincerely and cordially meet 
with my thanks. You cannot render a more acceptable 
service, nor in my estimation give me a more convincing 
l)roof of your friendship, than by a free, open, and un- 
disguised account of every matter relative to myself, or 
conduct. I can bear to hear of imputed or real errors. 
The man who wishes to stand well in the opinion of others, 
must do this; because he is thereby enabled to correct 
his faults, or remove the prejudices which arc imbibed 
against him. For this reason, I shall thank you for giv- 
ing me the opinions of the world, upon such points as 
you know me to be interested in ; for, as I have but one 
capital object in view, I could wish to make my conduct 
coincide with the wishes of mankind, as far as I can con- 
sistently ; I mean without departing from that great line 
of duty which, though hid under a cloud for some time, 
from a peculiarity of circumstances, may nevertheless 
bear a scrutiny. My constant attention to tlie great and 
perplexing objects which continually rise to my view, 
absorbs all lesser considerations, and indeed scarcely al- 
lows me to reflect, that there is such a body in existence 
as the general court of this colony, but when I am re- 
minded of it by a committee; nor can I upon recollec- 
tion, discover in what instances (I wish they would be 
more explicit) I have been inattentive to, or slighted 
them — they could not, surely, conceive that there was a 
propriety in unbosoming the secrets of an army to them 
— that it was necessary to ask their ojiinion of throwing 
lip an intrenchmcnt, forming a battalion, &c. &c.; it 



2i JMEMOIRS BY 

CHAP, must tlicrcfore be what I before hinted to you, and liow 



1. 



to remedy it I hardly know, as I am acquainted with few 
of the members, never go out of my own lines, or see any 
of tlicm in them. 

«I am exceeding sorry to liear, that your little fleet 
has been shut in by the frost. I hope it has sailed ere 
this, and given you some proof of the utility of it, and 
enabled the Congress to bestow a little more attention to 
the aftairs of tiiis army, which suffers exceedingly by 
their over much business, or too little attention to it. We 
are now without any money in our treasury — powder in our 
magazines — arms in our stores. We are without a bri- 
gadier (the want of which has been twenty times urged) 
' — engineers — expresses (though a committee has been 
appointed these two months to establish them) — and by 
and by, when we shall be called upon to take the field, 
sjiall not have a tent to lay in. — Apropos, what is doing 
w ith mine ? 

<« These are evils but small in comparison of those which 
disturb my present repose. Our inlistnients are at a 
stand; the fears 1 ever entertained are realised; that is, 
tlie discontented officers (for I do not know how else to 
account for it) have thrown such difiicultics or stumbling 
blocks in the way of recruiting, that I no longer enter- 
tain a hope of completing tlie army by voluntary inlist- 
ments, and 1 see no move or likelihoods to do it by other 
means. In the two last weeks, we have iidisted but 
about a thousand men, whereas I was confidently led to 
believe, by all tlie officers I conversed with, that we 
should by this time have had the regiments nearly com- 
pleted. Our total number upon paper amounts to abont 
i0,500; but as a large portion of these are retui-ncd not 
joined, I never expect to receive them; as an ineffectual 
order has once issued to call them in; another is now 
gone forth, peremptorily requiring all officers under pain 
of being cashiered, and recruits as being treated as de- 
serters, to join their respective regiments by the first day 
of next month, that I may know my real strength ; but if 
my fears aj'c not imaginary, I shall have a dread fid ac- 



GENERAL WILKINSON. 25 

count of the advanced month's pay. In consequence of chap. 
the assurances given, and my expectation of having at ^' 
least men enough inlisted to defend our lines, to which 
may be added, my unwillingness to burthen the cause 
with unnecessary expense, no relief of militia has been 
ordered in, to supply the places of those who are released 
from their engagements to-morrow, and on whom (though 
many have promised to continue out the month) there is 
no security for their stay. 

" Thus am I situated with respect to men: with regard 
to arms I am yet worse off. Before the dissolution of the 
old army, I issued an order directing three judicious 
men of each brigade, to attend, review, and appraise the 
good arms of every regiment ; and finding a very great 
unwillingness in the men to part with their arms, at the 
same time not having it in my power to pay them for the 
months of November and December, I threatened se- 
verely, that every soldier who should carry away his fire- 
lock without leave, should never receive pay for those 
months; yet so many have been carried off, partly by 
stealth, but chiefly as condemned, that we have not at this 
time one hundred guns in the stores, of all that have been 
taken in the prize ship and from tlie soldiery, notwith- 
standing our regiments are not half complete ; at the 
same time I am told, and believe it, that to restrain the 
inlistment to men with arms, you will get but few of 
the former, and still fewer of the latter, which would be 
good for any thing. How to get furnished I know not. 
I have applied to this and the neighbouring colonies, but 
with what success time only can tell. The reflection on 
my situation and that of this army, produces many an un- 
happy hour when all around me are wrapped in sleep. Few 
people know the predicament we are in, on a thousand 
accounts; fewer still will believe if any disaster happens 
to these linos, from what cause it flows. I have often 
tliought how much liappicr I should have been, if, instead 
of accepting the command under such circumstances, 1 
had taken my musket on my slioulder and entered the 
ranks, or, if I could have justified the measure to poste- 
VOL. I. D 



as MEMOIRS BY 

CHAP, r'lty and my own conscience, bad retired to the back coun« 
*' try, and lived in a wigwam. If I sliall be able to rise su- 
perior to these, and many other difficulties wliicb might 
be enumerated, 1 shall most religiously believe, that the 
Jinger of Providence is in it, to blind the eyes of our ene- 
mies; for surely if we get well through this montb, it 
must be for want of tbcir knowing the disadvantages we 
labour under. 

« Could I have foreseen the difficulties which have 
come upon us ; could I have known that such a back- 
wardness would have been discovered among the old sol- 
diers* to the service, all the generals upon earth should 
not have convinced me of the propriety of delaying an 
attack upon Boston till this time. When it can now be 
attempted, I will not undertake to say; but this much I 
will answer for, tiiat no opportunity can present itself 
earlier than my wishes. But as this letter discloses some 
interesting truths, I shall be somevphat uneasy until I 
hear it gets to your hand, although the conveyance is 
thought safe. 

« We made a successful attempt a few nights ago, upon 
the houses near Bunker's hill. A party under Major 
Knowlton, crossed upon the mill dam, (the night being 
dark) and set fire to and burnt down eight out of four- 
teen which were standing, and which we found they were 
daily pulling down for fuel. Five soldiers, and the wife 
of one of them, inhabiting one of the houses, Avere 
brought off prisoners j another soldier was killed ; none 
of ours hurt. 

** Having undoubted information of the embarkation of 
troops (somewhere from three to five hundred,) at Bos- 
ton, and being convinced they are designed either for 
New York government (from whence we have some very 
disagreeable accounts of the conduct of the tories) or Vir- 
ginia, I despatched General Lee a few days ago, in order 
to secure the city of New York from falling into their 
hands, as the consequences of such a blow might prove 

* Militia who had taken arms the preceding spring and summer. 



GENERAL WILKINSON. %^ 

fatal to onr interests. He is also to enquire a little into chap. 
the conduct of the Long Islanders, and such othei*s as '• 
have by their conduct and declarations, proved themselves 
inimical to the common cause. To effect these purposes, 
he is to raise volunteers in Connecticut, and call upon the 
troops of New^ Jersey, if not contrary to any order of 
Congress. 

« By a ship just arrived at Portsmouth, New Hamp- 
shire, we have London prints to the 2d of Nov. contain- 
ing the addresses of parliament, which contain little more 
than a repetition of the speech, with assurances of stand- 
ing by his majesty with lives and fortunes. The captains 
(for there were three or four of tliem passengers) say that 
we have nothing to expect but the most vigorous exer- 
tions of administration, who have a dead majority upon 
all questions, althougli the Duke of Grafton and General 
Conway, have joined the minority, as also the Bishop of 
Peterborough. These captains affirm confidently, that 
the five regiments from Ireland cannot any of them have 
.irrived at Halifax, inasmuch as that by a violent storm 
on the 19th of October, the transports were forced, in a 
very distressed condition, into Milford haven (Wales), 
and were not in a condition to put to sea when they left 
London, and the weather has been such since, as to pre- 
vent heavy loaded ships from making a passage by this 
lime. One or two transports, they add, were thought to 
be lost; but these arrived some considerable time ago at 
Boston, with three companies of the 17th regiment. 

<« Mr. S. Sayre has been committed to the Tower, upon 
tlie information of a certain Lieutenant or Adjutant Ri- 
chardson (formerly of your city) for treasonable practices; 
an intention of seizing his majesty, and possessing him- 
self of the Tower, it is said in the Crisis ; but is adnjittcd 
to bail himself in 500i. and two sureties in 250f, each. — 
What are the conjectures of the wise ones with yoii, of 
the French armament in the West Indies ? — But previous 
to this, is there any certainty of such an armament? 
The captains, who are sensible men, heard nothing of 



as MEMOIRS BY 

CHAP, this \vhen tlicy loft England; nor docs llicrc appear any 
apprehensions on this score in any of the measures or 
speeches of administration. I should think the Congress 
will not, ought not, to adjourn at this important crisis ; 
— hut it is highly necessary, when I am at the end of the 
second sheet of paper, that I should adjourn my account 
of matters to anotiier letter. I shall therefore, in Mrs. 
Washington's name, thank you for your good wishes to- 
wards her, and with compliments added to mine, to Mrs. 
Reed, &c. conclude. 

« Dear Sir, 

" Your sincere and affectionate servt." 

This letter needs no comment ; it is a most honourable 
testimonial of the entire confidence of General Washing- 
ton, in his secretary Colonel Joseph Reed,* which could 
not have been reposed in a more honourable man, a 
more faithful friend, or a more zealous patriot ; it also 
sustains the truth of the observation, that complaints and 
murmurs had been excited against the commander at 
Cambridge, whicli may be considered the germ of the 
cabal, which was afterwards matured against him. 

These, indeed, were times which tried men's 
SOULS ; but they have passed away and are forgotten, 
and the personal services and sufferings of those days, no 
longer appear to obtain that consideration in the eyes of 
the rulers of the republic, whicli the blessings of liberty 
and independence secured ought to inspire. 
Conduct It is difficult to account for Sir William Howe's ex- 
ral Hovvr treme caution, after he succeeded General Gage in com- 
mand, as the situation was calculated to excite his 
energies ; but whatever may have been the cause, whe- 
ther motives of personal policy, or views to ulterior ope- 
rations on a more favourable tlieatre, or the desire 
to spare his troojjs, until he should receive reinforce- 

* Afterwavds adjutant-general of the army, and subsequently go- 
vernor of Pennsylvania. 



GENERAL ^VILKINSON. 29 

ments, or whether, which is most probable, he wait- chap. 

cd for instructions from his government, his conduct ^^,^;,^. 

operated favourably for the revolution : the free use of 

his artillery familiarised our men to danger, and by 

suffering himself to be shut up in the town of Boston, 

he enabled General Washington to make a selection of and of 

. ... , General 

oflicers, to levy a new army, to organize his corps, to washing- 
assimilate, partially, tlieir modes of duty and exercise, ^on- 
to cherish the confideuce of bis troops, and to infuse 
among them some sense of the " esprit du corps J^ Nor 
did he imitate the example of his antagonist; for, how- 
ever puny his force, however circumscribed his means, 
he omitted no enterprise calculated to straiten the quar- 
ters of the enemy. To this end, and to keep up an im- 
posing appearance, he successively occupied Plowed hill. 
Cobble hill, Lechmore point, and Dorchester heights. 
These encroachments brought into operation, several 
heavy batteries of the enemy, lavishly and persevering- 
ly served with shot and shells, which were, on our 
part, languidly returned, from want of powder j but the 
fire of the enemy produced good effects ; the few lives 
which were lost serving to prove its inefficacy, and in- 
crease the hardihood of our militia. As a volunteer, I 
accompanied those several operations, excepting the first; 
and, at this day, can retrace in my own bosom the rapid 
transition from apprehension to indifference. 

The occupation of Dorchester heights enabled us to Occupan- 
enfilade the enemy's works on Boston neck, laid open the ch^ster""^ 
southern quarter of the town, exposed a part of the har- heights, 
hour, and therefore reduced him to the alternative of dis- 
possessing us, or abandoning his position. We broke 
ground on those heights in the night of the 4th of March,* 
and as soon as we were discovered, the enemy made de- March 5. 
monstrations of a design to dislodge us. A body of 

• Preceding the anniversary of the massacre in 1770, when a Bos- 
ton mob forced a guard to fire upon and kill several of them, the ofli- 
cer commanding the guard, Captain Preston, was tried and acquitted 
by a jury of the country. 



30 MEMOIRS BY 

CHAP, troops were embarked from Boston, and the transports, 
' accompanied by a floating battery, fell down the bay to 
the vicinity of the castle, with the apparent intention to 
debark on the north eastern shore of tlie heiglits, which 
decline in tliat direction, and terminate in a flat of some 
extent, projected within half a mile of Castle island. 
The transports came to anchor, and boats put off from 
them, evidently to search for landings, and examine as 
closely as possible our position and the works we had 
thrown up. From these circumstances, it has been my 
miiform opinion. Sir William Howe in making the de- 
tachment, obeyed a hasty impulse, without taking time 
to weigh consequences ; and that on a more close exami- 
nation of our works and numbers, his troops were wise- 
ly recalled^ because, if three thousand men had been cut 
to pieces by fifteen hundred, in dislodging the provin- 
cials from an unfinished, contracted redoubt at Breed's 
hill, it would have required more than General Howe's 
whole army to have driven us from a post thrice as diffi- 
cult of access, and defended by strong works and four- 
fold numbeis, better organised, better armed, better fit- 
ted for action, and more judiciously disposed. The re- 
turn and debarkation of the enemy at Boston the next 
morning, evinced his abandonment of the meditated at- 
tack, which has been in my judgment erroneously as- 
cribed by our historians, to a gale which occurred in the 
night, and deranged the order of his transports, driving 
several of them on the shoals of Governor's island. 

The enemy, now left without alternative, took imme- 
diate measures for the evacuation of the town ; which 
was no doubt accelerated by our breaking ground on 
Nook's hill, a northern spur or ])rojection of Dorchester 
heights, almost v.ithin point blank shot of his works 
on Boston neck, which it enfiladed, and also complete- 
ly commanded the southern part of tlie town and har- 
bour. Anticipating this movement. General Howe had 
placed and pointed a heavy battci-y to prevent the en- 
croachment, wiiich was opened the moment our pick- 



GENERAL WILKINSON. Si 

a*es were heard on the frozen earth, and produced chap. 
the desired effect ; for the cannonade was irresistible, 
and obliged the working party, after the loss of a few 
men, to retire before the first range of gabions were fill- 
ed ; but the enemy continued a furious cannonade the 
whole night, and on looking at the ground a few days 
after, I found it literally ploughed up, the shot making 
trenches in the frozen earth which would have received 
the body of a horse. I had the curiosity to examine this 
battery, after we got possession of the town, and think it 
consisted of nine 32 pounders, which were spiked and left 
on their carriages without other injury. 

Early in this month General Wasliington conferred on March, 
me my first commission of captain, in the regiment com- ceii'eral 
mandcd by Colonel James Read, of New Hampshire, wilkinsna 
bearing date September, 1775 ; but being attached to captain. 
General Greene's family, I did not join it until I reach- 
ed New York. On the morning of tlie 17tli, the advanced Enemy 
guards announced the retreat of the enemy from Bun- Boston, 
ker's hill, and soon after advice was received from Dor- ^[^^'^^^ ^fV 
Chester, that his fleet was falling down to Nantaskel 
road. 

On the confirmation of tliis intelligence from head 
quarters, I accompanied Colonels Starke and Reed to 
take a view of Bunker's hill, and the memorable theatre 
of action on the 17th June, 1775, where the sword dis- 
severed the tics of consanguinity, and cut asunder the so- 
cial bonds which united the American colonies to the pa- 
rent state. 

Arrived on the field of battle, wlicre those officers had 
performed conspicuous parts, with anxious enquiry I 
traced the general disposition of our yeomanry, on that 
eventful day, and the particular station of eacli corps ; I 
marked the vestiges of the post and rail fence on the left, 
and a stone wall, thrown up by order of Colonel Clark, 
on the beach of Mystic river, which covered our armed 
citizens. I paced the distance to the point, from whence 
the British light infantry, after three succcesivc gallant 



3S 



MEMOIRS BY 



CHAP 
I. 



Visit to 
Boston. 



charges, were finally repulsed. I examined tlie redoubt, 
the retrenchment, the landings and approaches of tlie ene- 
my, and every point of attack and defence. Resting on 
the parapet where, nine months before, « valour's self 
might have stood appalled," I surveyed the whole ground 
at a glance, and eagerly devoured the information im- 
parted by my veteran companions,* which differed essen- 
tially from all the accounts I had then heard, or have 
since read, and was conveyed to my understanding in a 
manner so simple and so clear, as to realise the combat 
to my imagination, and imprint the circumstances and 
the scenery so deeply on my memory, that I have never 
been at a loss, to delineate the ground or describe tlie 
battle. 

With a throbbing breast I stepped from this ground of 
unequal conflict, where American farmers, contending 
for the rights of nature, for their wives and children, and 
posterity unborn, bared their bosoms to the bayonets of 
veteran mercenaries; where victory so long balanced, 
between native courage and disciplined bravery, between 
freemen who contended for liberty, and the armed ruffian 
who fights for bread; and following my leaders, we tra- 
versed the ruins of Charlestown, lately the abode of 
thousands animated by the buz of active industry and so- 
cial happiness, now buried in its own ashes. 

Arrived at the ferry stairs, we discovered a canoe on 
shore, which we launched, and embarking in it, crossed 
Charles's river to Boston ; and, on the presumption the 
enemy had taken their departure, we marched directly 
through the town, by a long narrow winding street, to 
the fortifications on Roxbury neck, which had been skil- 
fully designed and well executed : here I first saw the 
little military engine called cal-trops, or crow-feet, wliich 
the enemy had scattered over the street within his works. 



• They had served during the seven years' war In Rogers's Ran- 
gers, on the frontiers of Canada, and Starke commanded a company 
of provincials under General Wolfe. 



GENERAL WILKINSON. 33 

It appeared that the enemy had, very properly, forbid the chapc 
inhabitants to leave their houses during the embarkation, ' 
and from this cause or their ignorance of his movements, 
or the timidity produced by their long residence with 
him, and the fear of reproach from their countrymen, 
the liouses of the inhabitants continued shut up, and the 
town presented a frightful solitude in the bosom of a nu- 
merous population. After several fruitless applications 
of our canes to doors and windows, we gained admit- 
tance into a house, where we were kindly treated by a 
well known whig, whose circumstances compelled him to 
abide with the enemy : I regr^ I should have forgotten 
his name. This day was tlie Sabbath, and the most so- 
lemn I had seen; a death-like silence pervaded an inha- 
bited city, and spectacles of waste and spoil struck the 
eye at almost every step. 

On entering the town he had so long blockaded,* Gene- General 
ral Washington enjoyed his triumph and the merited ho- Waslnng- 
nours conferred on him by the voice of Massachusetts, Boston, 
with cliaracteristic dignity and reserve; and on a public 
occasion in Boston, where I happened to be present, he 
took occasion to express Ms satisfaction^ that the place 
should have been taken without bloodshed; but in these 
our enlightened days, a president of the United States has 
been found to approve the wanton waste of human life, 
for the « honour of the nation;" and torrents of the best 
blood of the country have been prodigally expended, to 
raise the reputation of a favourite — to conce^al the want 
of system in military operations — to mitigate the incom- 
petency of the public councils — to wash out the stains of 
moral turpitude, and give lustre to flagitious characters. 

For the safety of New York, General Lee had been or- jan. lltlu 
dered to that city, and the rifle regiment and other corps 

* General Washington took possession of the town on the 18th, 
and conferred the command on General Greene. In those days it 
was believed that bloodless victories were most honourable to the 
victors, and that the first duty of a chief was to preserve his men : — 
Such seemed to be the opinions of General Washington, who was a 
great economist of human Ufq, 

VOL. I. E 



a4 



MEMOIRS BY 




Captafn 

'Wilkinson 

leaves 

Boston 

with 

General 

Greene, 



Arrives 
at New 
York. 



Case of 
Lieute- 
nant 
G'rovsP. 



had been detached to support him: the commander in 
chief now put in motion for t!ie same place, the main 
body of his inlisted yeomanry, who were engaged to tlie 
end of the year: I continued with General Greene in 
Boston, until the beginning of April, when we marched, 
and were overtaken by General Washington at Provi- 
dence. Here we spent a few days, and proceeded from 
thence to New London by Norwich, where I embarked 
with General Washington's guards, commanded by Cap- 
tain Gibbs, and having narrowly escaped shipwreck, du- 
ring a heavy gale in the sound, arri\ed at New York, 
after suft'ering extremely for the fiist time, from that 
oppressive malady called sea sickness. General Wash- 
ington had preceded us, and General Greene with his 
brigade arrived the 17th. 

Preferring the duties of the line, as the most profitable 
school for a noviciate, to a staff appointment, I took com- 
mand of my company on the 18th, when an incident occur- 
red, the recollection of which, at this distant day, causes me 
a twinge of sensible regret. My first lieutenant, Grover, 
old enough to be my father, had served with the provin- 
cials in 1758, and was a sergeant of the rangers under 
Lord llowc, tlie day on which that gallant young noble- 
man, yielding to the impetuosity of his spirit, threw away 
his life in pursuit of a paj'ty of flying Canadians.* This 



* Loi'd Howe was second to General Abercromby on the unfortu- 
nate expedition against Ticonderoga, in 1758, and was considered the 
life and soul of the service. Commanding the elite, which consisted 
of the light infantry and provincial rangers, he preceded the army, 
and landed at the foot of Lake George, where he found the advanced 
post of the enemy. A loose skirmish ensued, and the French made 
a rapid retre;U, hard pressed by his lordship, over a broken and rug- 
ged surface, covered with a thick forest intermingled with hemlock. 
Being well acquainted with the country, the Canadians retreated by 
a ford of the strait which connects lakes George and Champlain, at 
the foot of the first cataract, and having gained the opposite bank, 
Ihey turned about and delivered a random fire at their pursuers, by 
Avhlch Lord Howe was killed (August 6, 1758) about one and an half 
jniles from the place where he landed. I received this information 
the 22d of April, 1814, from .Tiidge Kellog, a most respectable old 
^ntleman, who now resides on the very tract over which Lord Howe 



GENERAL WILKINSON. s^ 

veteran lieutenant had distinguished himself in the battle CHAP, 
of Breed's hill," he had levied the company and command- '• 
ed it; but his want of education was considered a bar to 
his promotion, and the commission was conferred on me 
by the commander in chief. Nevertheless, poor Grover's 
pretension.^ were strong, and my sense of justice pleaded 
in his behalf. I thought then, and I think stili, that mili- 
tary rank should be held as sacred as the vestal fire, and 
tliat the officer who voluntarily yields his just claim to pro- 
motion, except in cases of reward for ver^ extraordinary 
service, gives the strongest proofs of his un worthiness ta 
wear a sword. If improper characters be introduced into 
the service, it is the fault of the executive, because he lias 
an opportunity for examination prior to appointment; but 
he crrtainly has no right to distinguish a citizen, that he 
may disgrace him ; yet, *< forgetting rigid, and consulting 
power," President Madison has sanctioned the tyranny 
and the cruelty, of dismissing and dishonouring military 
officers of his own appointment, on secret infoi-mations, 
without a charge and without a hearing. But in the case 
before us, my own judgment was silenced by that of the 
commander in chief, announced in general orders, which 
I was bound to obey. 

The regiment was ordered for muster, the day I en*- 
tered on duty; the company was paraded, and I present- 
ed myself to take the command ; but when I gave the 
order to shoulder firelocks, the men remained motionless, 
and the lieutenant, stepping up to me, enquired where I 
was going to march the men. I answered that he should 
presently see, but, in the mean time, he must consider 
himself in arrest for mutiny, and " march to his room," 
which he did without hesitation.* 1 then addressed my- 

pursued the Canadians. The Judjje's father belonged to the provin- 
c-ial service at the tinrje, and g-ave this account of the affiiii- to his son. 
1 examined the ground at the period mentioned, and discovered ves- 
tiges of the chimnies of the French barracks, on a snnall elevation 
near the landing at the head of the strait, where Lord Howe and the 
British army debarked. 

* This incident is noticed by General Washington, in his letters of 
ihe .5th and 11th of May, 1776, to the President of Congress, 'itap* 



3*6 MEMOIRS BY 

CHAP, self to tlie company; pointed out to them my right of 



I. 



command, and the necessity for their obedience; I inform- 
ed them that 1 should repeat the order, and if it was not 
instantly obeyed, I should run the man nearest to me 
thniugh the body, and would proceed on from right to 
left, so long as they continued refi-actory and my strength 
would support me. I had no further trouble, but joined 
the regiment, and marched to the parade of general mus- 
ter, in front of the present City Hall, and facing the south; 
the ground in our rear being then unoccupied by build- 
ings. 

A comparative view of the weight and influence of the 
city and state of New York, in 1776, with their magni- 
tude and importance in 1816, will furnish a fair criterion 
by which we may estimate, the wonderful population and 
improvement of our country, in the short period of forty 
years; and the observation must be my apology, for in- 
viting my readers, in this place, to examine attentively 
the rapid aggrandisement of the national family — ^to re- 
flect seriously on the causes which produced im/e]je7i(/6?»cc, 
universal tolerationf security of persons, and self govern- 
ment to the British colonies — and to meditate profoundly 
upon the means indispensable to the perpetuation of the 
rich inheritance. 

To preserve to confederated America the inestimable 
blessings, which have ceased to exist elsewhere, the citi- 
zens of the United States are bound by the most solemn 
obligations of gratitude and of duty ; of gratitude to their 
ancestors, from whom they received them, and of duty to 
their posterity, to whom they stand pledged to transmit 
them. But how is that equal liberty to be preserved in 
this country, which has been lost in every other ? The 
task is a difficult one, but it is by no means impracti- 
cable. A frequent recurrence to, and a detennined sup- 
port of, the princiiJes of the revolution, will secure the 

pears Grover was tried, and that the General disapproved the sen- 
tence of the court, but finally excused him after he bad made written 
acknowledgmwts; he, ho\rever, never joined the company while I 
commanded it. 




GENERAL WILKINSON. 37 

virtuous administration of the government, and that alone 
can resist tlie principle of corruption, inherent in all tem- 
poral institutions. Among tlie eternal enemies of equal 
rights and free governments, we find the lusts of power 
and wealth the most prominent ; which, in their very na- 
ture, tend to aristocracy, and terminate in monarchy or 
despotism. The administration of the public power and 
the infltience of wealth cannot, therefore, be too sedu- 
lously watched, nor too cautiously guarded against. At 
this early period they have made their appearance in our 
political horizon, and are visible, in the universal pas- 
sion for office^ in the almost universal silence of the pub- 
lic prints on the measures of the majority; in executive 
encroachments, and the acquiescence of the correlative 
branches of the government; in the vile barter of the exe- 
cutive patronage for popular support ; in official arro- 
gance, and the lofty assumption of the servants of the 
people ; in the conversion of the daily pay of the members 
»f the legislature into fixed salaries, at an enormous in- 
crease, without the consent of the people; in the attempt 
to increase the salaries of the public officers, at a time 
when the avidity for office is without example, and the 
nation is burthened with debt; in the unnecessary and 
pernicious extension of the foreign relations of the coun- 
try, contrary to the admonition of the greatest man who 
has lived in it ; in the unnecessary and dangerous in- 
crease of the standing army in time of universal peace ; 
in doctrines and measures calculated to foster a domi- 
nant military spirit in these states, to debauch the rising 
generation from the solid pursuits of civil life, and in«- 
sensibly to raise a superstructure of profligate pagean- 
try and idleness, on the ruins of industry, simplicity of 
manners, and the social virtues ; in the inculcation of the 
humiliating, anti-republican, destructive sentiment, that 
t\\e safety of these sequestered states, three thousand miles 
r^emoved from any power competent to injure them, must 
depend on fleets and armies, and ijot on tlie intrinsic 
strength and resources of tlie country, which have been 
a\iU must continue to be tjie bulwark of tiie nation, so hv^ 



38 



MEMOIRS Bt 



CHAP. 
1. 



April 21. 



Ordered 
Ibr Ca- 
nada. 

April 29, 



as it$ present form of government is preserved; in the 
frequent vii.lations of the constitution by the executive 
ma.fijistnitc, even to the sanction of murdcrj and above 
all, in the nsurprJion of the legislative body, to appoint the 
executive i nuithont the consent of the people. 

These are nut false, alarms, nor the clamours of dis- 
content; they are the offspring of a bosom alive to the 
cause of lepresentative g')vernment, virtuously adminis- 
tered, and are founded on the observation of an humble 
imiividual, content .vith liis iiumility, and superior to ofli- 
cial dependence ; they are the infallible symptoms of a 
P')litical malady, vvliich if not cliecked by some season- 
able corrective, will soon infect the whole system, and 
then it must inevitably follow, tliat the government, in- 
stituted by society for its own use, will be converted into 
the property of those who may be intrusted with its ad- 
ministration. To prevent these menacing evils; to ex- 
tract the poisons which have been insidiously infused into 
the body politic, and to cleanse and cure the ulcers of 
state, the people must arouse from that lethargy and cold 
indifference, which forms the last vice of political society; 
they must interpose their natural and indefeasible prero- 
gatives; they must think and act from themselves, and 
for themselves ; and correct tlie public abuses, by remov- 
ing from their confidence and the public councils, the au- 
thors of those abuses and their coadjutox-s. 1 submit 
these reflections to the reader, with great deference, but 
with the most upright intention, and zealous regard for 
the civil institutions of our common country, and will re- 
sume tho thread of my narrative. 

Four regiments had been ordered to reinforce the army 
in Canada, and sailed for Albany, under Brigadier-gene- 
ral Thompson. The activity employed on the fortifica- 
tions of New York, produced such a pressure of duty, 
that I was alternately on guard and fatigue, day about, 
until the 26th of April, when my regiment, with those of 
Starke from New Hampshire, Wayne's and Irvine's 
from Pennsylvania, and Winde's and Dayton's from New 
Jersey, were put under marching orders for Canada, sub- 



GENERAL WILKINSON. 39 

ject to the command of Brigadier-general Sullivan. I CHAP. 
sailed from New York with my company, and the corps ' 
rendezvoused at Albany, w here they were reviewed by j^^ g 
Major-general Srhuylei', and I mart bed two days after for Arrives srt 
Fort William Henry, at the south end of Lake George, ^"^ 
and arrived there tiie 15th. At this post I found General 
Schuyler in command, and met the late Bishop Carroll on 
his return from Canada, from whom [ received such un- 
favourable accounts of the situation of affairs, as made it 
necessaiy to accelerate my march. I embarked in two 
large batteaux with my company, and a quantity of pro- 
vision the 17th, and reached the foot of Lake George the 
next evening. Early the following morning, I marched Marches 
across the portage, two and a half miles, to Ticondero- baikrat 
ga, where other boats loaded with provisions were fur- Lake 
nished me, and having shipped a Canadian, who carried 
the mail between Montreal and Albany, for my pilot, I 
sailed to Crown point, where I encamped for the night. 
Early on the 20th, I got under way with a favourable 
breeze, and beheld the mountain tops, which bordered the 
lake, covered with snow ; the wind freshened until it blew 
a gale, which caugiit us mid-lake, opposite to the present 
site of Burlington, and would have drowned us all, but 
for the skill and conduct of my pilot, who by means of 
the small blanket-sails we had rigged, kept the leading 
boat before the wind, and running close in with the north 
point of Valcour island, by a sudden turn of the helm, 
brought us under its lee, and extricated us from the 
swell of the sea, which threatened with every wave to 
fill our batteaux. Here I was wind bound the 24 st. Sail- 
ed at day-light the 22d, with a favourable breeze, and 
reached St. John's about 4 o'clock. At this place I met Keaches 
a Mr. Price, a merchant of Montreal, who had distin- 
guished himself for his attachment to the American cause, 
and his services to Gen. Montgomery. From this gentle- 
man, I learned the misfortune which had taken place at the 
Cedars, on the Cataraque; that the main army wasencamp- 
ed at the mouth of the Sorel, and Brig. Gen. Arnold with 
a handful of men had advanced to La Chine, a short dis- 



m MEMOIRS BY 

CHAP, tance above Montreal, to cover that city. On the march 
*• route from Albany I made the tliird company, being pre- 
ceded by Captains Oliver and Spalding, who, in descend- 
ing Lake Champlain, hugged the eastern shore, and ran 
into Missisqui bay, which caused me to anticipate them 
at St. John's. I found this post without garrison or 
commandant, but infested by mimbers of stragglers from 
the army, who could give no satisfactory account of them- 
selves. Being myself without orders, written or verbal, 
beyond that place, I yielded to the general impulse of my 
breast, and determined to reinforce the weakest point. 
Accordingly, having taken under my command every man 
who acknowledged himself to be a soldier, I marched for 
La Prairie, upwards of one hundred strong, our compa- 
ny establishment being at that time 86 non-commissioned 
officers and privates. On entering the wood which skirt- 
ed the open ground around St. John's, I was assailed by 
swarms of musquitoes, more numerous than I have ever 
beheld on the banks of the Mississippi; but they disap- 
peared as soon as we travei'sed the forest and entered the 
plains, which was a short distance. I found quarters in 
a Canadian barn, about three leagues from St. John's ; 
and at a similar distance the next morning I reached La 
Prairie, from whence I had a charming prospect of the 
rapids of the St. Lawrence, the island of St. Helena, the 
city of Montreal and its mountains, which form a pictu- 
resque back ground, and furnish a pleasing rest to the 
eye J the " tout ensemble^' presents one of the finest land- 
scapes in the interior of North America. The village of 
La Prairie consisted of half a dozen humble wooden 
houses, and a church. I did not understand a word of 
the French language, nor could one of the inhabitants 
speak English : I learned however, by signs and gestures, 
that the place I sought was above me; I therefore march- 
ed up the right bank of the river, crossed a creek which I 
now know to be <' La Tortue,*' traversed a wood about a 
mile in depth, and ascending a gentle acclivity, from its 
summit perceived an Lidian village near me. This was 
inhabited by the Cachnawaga tribe of the Iroquois, who 



GENERAL WLKINSON. 41 

acknowledged Colonel Louis* for their chief, and were CHAP, 
much attached to the Bostonians, the name by which all 
tlic British colonists were known among the Canadians. 

An interpreter met me as I entered the village, and 
pointed to La Chine directly opposite. I spoke to the 
chiefs; made an arrangement for ferrying my men after 
me ; embarked in a birch canoe, the first I had seen, and, 
though the river was a mile wide, in ten minutes after 
presented myself to General Arnold, to whom I was a 
stranger. My small reinforcement was opportune and May 22, 
imexpected, as I found the General busily engaged with joms Ar- 
about 250 men, in retrenching a spacious stone magazine "o^^l a* 
to resist Major Foster of the British service, who had 
reduced our garrison of 390 men posted at the Cedars, 
on the Cataraque, had made prisoners of Major Sher- 
burne and a detachment of 100 men who were marching 
to reinforce the garrison, and was now advancing with a 
force composed of 40 men of the 8th regiment of British 
infantry, 100 Canadians, and 500 Indians, wliich he had 
incorporated at Oswegatcliie. 

La Chine is the name of the landing place at the head 
of those rapids of the St. Lawrence, which terminate op- 
posite Montreal, from whence it is about three leagues 
distant. At this place the batteaux of the lakes, and the 
birch canoes for Grand, or Ottawa river, receive their 
loads, and take their departure for their respective 
voyages. 

The day after my arrival, two of my men, who had 
"Walked up the shore, in quest of milk, were made pri- 
soners and hurried off by an Indian scout; but in ascend- 

* This chief, the issue of a negro and a squaw, had been with the 
Count lie Villiers, in 1754, at the capture of Colonel Washington and 
his little garrison at Fort Necessity. On the commencement of the 
revolution, Louis repaired to General Washington, at Cambridge, to 
whom he was personally known, was employed, with the commission 
of a colonel, and proved faithful to the American cause. He had re- 
moved from Cachnawaga to St. Regis, and on my arrival at the 
French Mills, in 1813, called on me ; he was then bent and withered 
with age, and I understand is smce dead. 

VOL, L F 



4^ MEMOIRS BY 

CHAP, ing a hill, one of tliem slackening Iiis pace, fell in the rear, 
^_^^ wheeled suddenly, and sprani^ off in retreat; the savages 
halted, turned about, fired and wounded him terribly in q. 
tender part; yet he made his escape, and warned us of 
the approach of the enemy^ which was confirmed about 
sunset by Foster's drum. 

General Arnold, at this time, was on a visit to Cachna- 
waga, but i»is place was well supplied by a Colonel Brown, 
(the same who reduced Chamblee, and was afterwards 
kiiled near Johnstown) and a Colonel Williams, both of 
whom had served with General Montgomery before 
Quebec. 

We turned out, and stood by our arms until ten o'clock; 
when perceiving no movement of the enemy, the guards 
were doubled, and we retired to our quarters. Our situa- 
tion was so critical, that it excited my utmost vigilance; 
and I ejfi ployed myself in meditating on the best means 
of defence, while my comrades were carousing on the 
best cheer they could find. The hour of repose having 
arrived, I resisted the importunities of my companions to 
lay down, alleging that we might be surprised when asleep, 
and therefore whilst others slept I watched, and occupie4 
myself in writing to my friend General Greene, with 
whom I supported a correspondence to the close of the 
war. 

This letter was written just at the close of my nine- 
teenth year, and is marked by its juvenility of style; yet 
it but too faithfully pourtrayed the deplorable situation of 
the army in Canada, and was the precursor of the misr 
fortunes which awaited it; it is a testimonial of my inti- 
macy wiih General Greene, and is recorded with a letter 
from General Washington to the President of Congress, 
whicfi furnishes evidence of the consideration in which I 
was held by our illustrious commander, at that tender 
age; for these reasons I trust I shall be excused for 
submitting those document? to the reader in this place. 



GENERAL WILKINSON. 43 



Extract of a Letter' from General Washington to the Presi- 
dent of Congress } dated JS^erv York, June 17th, 1776. 

« I am much concerned for the situation of our affairs 
in Canada, and am fearful ere this it is much worse than 
was first reported at Philadelphia. The intelligence 
fi'om tliencc, in a letter from Captain Wilkinson of the 
2d regiment, to General Greene, is truly alarming; it 
not only confirms the. account of Colonel Bedel's, and Ma- 
jor Sherburne's defeat, but seems to forbode General Ar- 
nold's, with the loss of Montreal. I have enclosed a copy 
of the letter, which will but too well shew that there is 
foundation for my apprehensions." 

Captain Wilkinson to Genehai Greene* 

([Inclosed to the President of Congress. ] 

« La Chine, May 24th, ±776, 12 o'clock at night), 
about 12 miles from Montreal. 
« My Dear Sir, 

" We are now in a sweet situation. A part of the gar- 
rison at Detroit, in conjunction with Indians and Cana- 
dians, to the amount of 1000 men, have made themselves 
masters of Colonel Bedel's regiment, who were stationed 
about nine miles from this place, among the cedars, and 
have cut o(f our friend Major Sherburne,* with 140 men, 
iVho were detached to relieve the regiment, which defend- 
ed itself in a little fort. The Major, with that courage 
which marked his character, pushed his way, after an 
engagement of four liours, into the fort, and was obliged 
f-o yield for want of ammunition and provisions; since 
which time General Arnold, with a handful of men, liave 
been throwing up a breastwork here, in order to stop the 
enemy's progress, and had indeed meditated a plan of 
attacking them; but, alas! so astonishingly are matters 
Conducted in this quarter, that notwithstanding the Ge- 
neral's most pressing solicitations, and the length o? 

* Srrtce General Sherburne, of Newport, Rhode Islaftd. 



CH/VP. 
I. 



M MEMOIRS BY 

CHAP, time since lie took possession of this post, we cannot now 
' muster more than S50 men, whilst the proximity and 
mnA'ements of the enemy, assure us that we shall be at- 
tacked within six hours. Their drums were heard this 
evening at our camp, and a man of mine was shot 
throu.e;!i the thij;h, within half a mile of it, hy an Indian^ 
who to(di off a prisoner. But the morning dawns — that 
morn, big with the fiitc of a few, a handful of brave fel- 
lows. I shall do my part — but remember, if I fall, I am 
sacrificed. May God bless you equal to your merits. — 
Yale! 

(Signed) « JA. WILKINSON."* 

In less than twenty days after writing this letter to 
■i General Greene, I was made the instrument of saving 

Arnold and tiie garrison of Montreal, from the grasp of 
Sir Guy Caileton. 

The advam e of Foster, left no doubt of his intention 
to attack us the ensuing morning; and we were all at a 
loss for the cause of his declining the attack, until the; 
May 25. appearance of Colonel De Haas, about 8 o'clock in the 
forenoon with a detachment of about 500 Pcnnsylvanian 
Foster re- infantry and riflemen. Foster, in the course of the nigiit, 
irmir-^" had received advice from his spies of the approach of 
sued. this reinforcement, which caused him to retreat with pre- 
cipitation. Arnold pursued him the same day; my com- 
pany formed the advanced guard, and Colonel Brown 
volimteered by my side. We reached Fort Ann, at the 
head of Montreal island, the next day about 3 o'clock, 
just as Fosters rear had landed on the opposite shore, 
and our main body got up about 4 o'clock ; but the bat- 
teaux, with our baggage, stores, and provisions, being 
obstructed by a strong current between Montreal and 
Perault islands, did not arrive until 5 o'clock. 
Arnold Orders immediately issued to discharge the loads, and 

arrives at gjjj5a,.j^ ^^j^e troops, which were executed with zeal and 
St. Ann, promptitude, but without regularity or arrangement. The 

* The information contained in this letter respecting- the affair of 
the Cedars was, of course, founded on rumour. 




GENERAL WILKINSON. 4& 

wliole embarked in disorder, and followed Arnold, in 
crowded batteaux, loa»led to tlie gunwale, who directed 
Ills course to the opposite shore, in a light birch canoe ^^ ^^] 
paddled by four Iroquois Indians. barks the 

The current was strong', and the river more than a ^'it°^^ the 
mile wide. Two of our captives discovered themselves enemy. 
in an inundated thicket, and were taken off by the Gene- 
ral, at eveiy hazard of decoy and ambuscade. We were 
immediately after ordered to fall down about half a 
league, and land in an extensive bay, formed by a bend 
in the riglit bank of t!ie river. 

The sun was setting, the sky unclouded, the atmos- 
phere serene, the surface on which we floated as smooth 
as a mirror, and the spire of tlie church of Quinze Chenes, 
together with the wliite Canadian houses ranged along 
the coast, diversified the prospect most agreeably. But 
this charming tranquil scene w as speedily converted into 
one more animated. As we approached the shore, we 
perceived the detachment of British troops employed on 
the beach, and the Indians ranging themselves on the 
bank. At half cannon shot, Foster opened a battery of 
two four pounders upon us, which he had taken at the 
Cedars, and the savages began to yell and fire from one 
extremity of their line to the other. Our distance was 
too great for any effect from small arms ; but we were 
eminently exposed to the artillery, every sliot plunging 
beneath or passing over us, and the slightest touch of our 
fragile craft, would have sent a crew to the bottom, as we 
were too deeply laden to furnish the smallest relief to 
each other. 

The moment the cannonade commenced, we were or- 
dered to rest on our oars ; the fire of the enemy was de- 
liberate, and the current constantly changing our posi- 
tion, soon drifted us beyond the range of his sliot. Ar- 
nold ill the meanwhile darted about in his canoe, without 
apparent object or end, and finally gave orders for re- 
ascending the river to Fort St. Ann, where we relanded 
about 8 o'clock, P. M. A council of war was immediate- Council 
ly convened to include captains, and Arnold desired me ^^ ^^*'*- 



46 MEMOIRS BY 

CHAP, to r(*cor(l tlie proceedings. He proposed to flie couiicih 
<•' that we should ascend the Grand river a Jew mileSf under 
cover of the night, gain the rear of the enemy, and fall on 
them at day-hreak. He asserted the feasibility of the enter- 
prise, and urged it for the deliverance of the captives taken 
at the Cedars," who, we understood, were confined in the 
parish cluirch of Quinze Chenes, under a guard of sa- 
vages. Colonel Hazen was opposed to this enterprise^ 
<'//'07Ji his long acquaintance with the Indian character: he 
was satisfed their vigilance would prevent surprise, and 
that the moment of attack would be the signal for the mas- 
sacre of their prisoners.'* Colonel De Haas inclined to 
the same opinion. Captains Josiah Harmer, William 
Butler, myself, and some others, were not convinced by 
the arguments of the colonels; but contended, that f'the 
pisoners themselves, nobly despising personal danger, would 
solicit the attack, at the peril of their lives; since it must 
eventuate in the defeat of the hord of savages, and tibe cap- 
ture of Foster* s party of regular troops." After much de- 
bate, we were out-voted, and Arnold, although highly 
irritated, did not on his own authority think proper ta. 
enforce his proposition. 

The council broke up about midnight, in discontent 
and disgust; some reproachful language having passed 
between Arnold and Hazen. A short time after, the offi- 
cer of the day announced a parley, from a boat on the 
river: it was answered, and the flag permitted to land* 
and Licuteant Bird of the 8th British regiment, was pre- 
sented to the General by Major Sherbune, who had been 
captured on his march to reinforce the post at the Ce- 
Conven- dars. A conference ensued, in w Inch it appeared that 
tliT '^^'- Sherburne and the senior officers, captured by Foster, 
my. had been prevailed on tiie day before to enter into a 

convention with him, which Arnold, with some modifi- 
cation, confirmed. 

By this convention of Arnold the government was 
pledged to exchange the prisoners, and Captain Sulli- 
van, with three other officers, were left as hostages for 
the performance. Biit the Congress, after due delibcra- 



GENERAL WILKINSON. 47 

^on, iletermined the agreement to be an unatliorised act chap. 
on the part of Arnold : yet tliey agreed to ratify it, though ' 
under such stipulations as defeated the effect, and the hos- 
tages were afterwards liberated, and sent home by Sir 
Guy Carleton. 

Here we have a strong testimony of the indecision of 
Arnohl, who had the enemy completely in his power, be- 
fore the arrival of the flag, and much more so after- 
wards ; but he felt an attraction towards Montreal, at 
the moment, which damped his military ardour. 

Having the next day visited Foster, and settled with May 27- 
him the subordinate arrangements incident to the conven- 
tion, Arnold set out for Montreal the following morning, 
leaving the command in Colonel De Haas. On the 30th Order to 
of May, the Colonel received a peremptory order, to pe iiaas 
cross the lake of the Two Mountains,* and destroy a disobeye^. 
village of the Iroquois, called Canasadago, six or eight 
miles from our encampment. The youth of the detach- 
ment exulted in these orders ; but De Haas deliberated 
on the execution, and to get rid of them resorted to a 
council of war, which, (in spite of the opposition of a 
few determined spirits) concluded to reject them, and 
he fell back to La Chine. 

I had the mortification, by order of De Haas, to be the Arnold's 
bearer of the proceedings of this council to General Ar- conduct. 
nold, which I delivered to him in Montreal, the same 
evening, after a fatiguing ride through a deluge of rain. 
On perusing the despatch, Arnold expressed great in- 
dignation ; reproached the whole detachment as well as 
the Colonel, and concluded by observing, that « none 
but cowards would hesitate to obey a positive order.''* 
Piqued at this illiberality and rudeness, I observed to 
him, « Sir, you censure the detachment unjustly ; several 
of the queers were 'zealous for the enterprise, and the Co- 
lonel alone is responsible^'* This observation seemed to 
affect the General^ he paused, and after some time ask- 

• A circular expansion of Grand river at the head of Montreal 
island, not exceeding four miles in the broadest part. 



48 MEMOIRS BY 

CHAP, ed me to sup, which I declined, although I had not broke 
^ fast that day, and retired to a wretched tavern, where I 
was obliged to lie down in my wet clothes. 
De Haas Early the next morning, I received verbal orders to 
^j^"j"^ j° join my company, which I met at La Chine, with De 
Haas, and the whole detachment. From thence we 
marched into Montreal, and as soon as the troops were 
dismissed, I received a request from General Arnold, to 
join him as bis aid-de-camp, to which I assented, being 
, flattered by the preference of an officer, who had at that 
period acquired great celebrity. 
Captain A few days after I entered his family, the General put 

refii e ^°" into my bands sundry invoices of stores and merchan- 
Genral discs, belonging to the inhabitants of the town, which he 
ordei- for directed me to demand and receive from the several pro- 
plunder- prietors, and to give orders on him for payment at the 
jperchants ^^^^t of tiie invoices; but in case the owners should re- 
of Moil- fijgg tiie delivery, then tlie goods were to be seized, pack- 
ed up by a guard which attended me, and conveyed to 
head quarters. As well as I recollect, I first called on a 

Mrs. M'C d, whose husband was in Quebec, for a 

quarter cask of Madeira wine, who gave me such a 
Xantippiad, as cut short our interview and saved her 
wine. I then proceeded to the house of a merchant of 
respectability, I believe a Mr. Forsyth, or a Mr. Leitb ; 
his invoice Wfis presented to him, and acknowledged to 
be correct; but to my demand for the delivery of the 
goods, he replied, « These are the goods. Sir; they are in 
your power ; I cannot deliver them but in my own wrong; 
you must know that your troops are about to quit this pro^ 
vince (which, by tlie bye, I did not), and what could I do 
with your paper money ; it would be mere chaff, and I 
should, by the delivery, forfeit my claim on the crown for 
indemnity. Four own breast imist determine whether it be 
just, under such circumstancesj to take a man's property 
from him.''* 

These observations struck forcibly upon my mind ; I 
made some rapid reflections on the obligations of my 
profession, the limits of obedience, and the nature of 



GENERAL WILKINSOl!^, 4g 

the service on which I was ordered, af^ainst wliich my chap. 
understanding and feelings revolted j I, therefore, pock- '' 
etted the invoice, marched back the guard to head quar- 
ters, and requested the General to excuse me fi-om the 
execution of an order, which «» appeared to be rather mer- 
cantile than military,''^ He admitted my excuse, but ob- 
sei'ved, that I was « more nice than raise ;" and ordered 
me to hold myself in readiness to descend the river to 
the Iiead quarters of the army at Sorelj pursuant to 
which, I embarked about noon, on board a twelve-oared 
batteau, with despatclies for General Sullivan. The wind 
was strong a-head, which caused a considerable swell 
in tlie river, and retarded my progress. I had passed 
Boucherville, and was approaching Varenne, on the 
right bank of the St. Lawrence, fourteen miles below 
Montreal, when I lieard the report of a cannon, at no 
great distance in my front, the smoke of which \^ as con- 
cealed from me, by the point of land on which Varenne 
stands, my boat being close in with the right shore to 
avoid the force of the wind. I ordcied my men to rest 
on their oars, and was pausing to discover the' occasl?>nt 
of tliis shot, when a second report, at a grt^ater distance, 
announced a military movement, and solved my difficul- 
ties. I immediately ran my batteaj»x ashore, hauled, l'6i' 
up, left every thing standing, ordi^red my j^arty- witdsr 
arms, and marched to the main road, tt still remained Meets Sir 
to be ascertained what movement it was Cfor I really Guy Carle- 

'^ •' ton and 

had little suspicion of an enemy), and therefore I march- the Bri- 
ed forward until within 200 yards of the head of the vil- *fl^/™^ 

•' at Va- 

lage, when a platoon of the enemy turned the corner of rennev 
the street and fired ; for what cause, unless as a signal, 
I have never been able to devise 3 as it could hardly have 
been at my small party, w hich, if the enemy had not shewn 
tliemselvcs, would in five minutes have been their pri«» 
aoncrs ; but, being now satisfied the enemy had actually 
arrived witliin fourteen miles of Montreal, without Ge- 
neral Arnold's knowledge, my solicitude was awakened 
for his safety, and that of the corps he commanded. 1 in- 
clined to the right, leaped a fence, and under shelter of 
VOT). I. O 



&0 MEMOIRS BY 

CHAP, a copse of wood, retreated as fast as my men could rurv 
^^^^i,^ keeping the wood between me and the enemy. 

The city of Montreal is situate on the left bank of the 
St. Lawrence, where it is a mile wide, at the head of ship 
navigation and at the foot of a shoal rapid, with the beau- 
tiful little island of St. Helena in its front, which by 
compressing the stream increases its velocity. Three 
hours had scarcely elapsed since I had left the place in 
perfect security, one third of the gari-ison down with the 
small-pox, and no American dreaming of the approach of 
an enemy. What then must have been the feelings of 
a young soldier, at this unexpected rencontre of the 
British army on the opposite bank of the river, at a mo- 
ment when he believed General Sullivan still occupied his 
position at the month of Sorel, fifteen or twenty leagues 
below ? I realise at this moment my emotions ; but all my 
exertions would have been unavailing, if the wind had 
not failed at that critical moment, and obliged the British 
fleet to cast anchor ; or, if General Carleton had not halt- 
ed, when by an easy march of four hours over a smooth 
road, on the margin of tlie river, five hundred men and a 
single field j-if ce, could have intercepted Arnold, with a 
garrison of tweivc or fifteen hundred, who, being cut off 
fr'dm succour or retrsat, must have surrendered at dis- 
tuetian; 

To favour t!i2 escape of General Arnold with his gar- 
rison, it was necessary he shoidd receive the earliest in- 
formation of the near approach of the enemy. I there- 
fore continued my pace without halt, and leaving the party 
in charge of my sergeant, mounted a horse barebacked? 
which 1 discovered at the door of a wind-mill, and rode 
full speed three leagues to Longuille, where I found the 
inhabitants apprised of the advance of the enemy, and 
almost in a state of hostility. At the point of my sword, 
I extorted a paddle, and compelled a Canadian to assist 
me in launching a canoe from the beach, into which I 
jumped, and with much labour gained the opposite shore, 
half a league below the town, and about six o'clock 1 
reached Arnold's quarters. He was exceedingly sur- 



GENERAL WILKINSON. §i 

prised at my report, having just received advice of Ge- CHAP, 
neral Sullivan's retreat from Sorel, and was making pre- 
parations to cross the St. Lawrence, but did not contem- vvarns 
plate this movement before the next morning, which Ainold of 
w ould have been too late. '^"^ '*' ^^ ' 

Every means was now put in operation to effect tjie 
passage of the river in the course of the nigljt; and I 
was ordered immediately to recross it, and traverse the 
country by tiie direct route to Chamblee, twelve miles, Ordered 
to report to General Sullivan the situation in which I had hK^. 
discovered the enemy, and request a detachment to cover 
General Arnold's retreat by La Prairie. To expedite 
this service, I was advised to cross tlie river ab(»ve the 
island of St. Helena; but found the passage so much ob- 
structed by rocks, shoals and rapids, that I did not make 
the opposite shore and reach Longuille until it was dark. 
I found a public horse at the parish priest's, mounted 
him, and arrived at Chamblee about nine o'clock at 
night. 

The scene liere presented to me can never be effaced. 
The front of our retreating army, overwhelmed with 
fatigue, lay scattered in disorder over the plain, and 
buried in sleep, without a single sentinel to watch for its 
safety. I rode through the encampment, entered the fort 
by the drawbridge, dismounted, and presented myself to 
General Sullivan, in his quarters, without being halted 
or even hailed. Notwithstanding the dissimilitude of tiie 
occasion, the prostrate unprotected situation in which I 
found our camp, recalled to my memory Virgil's truly 
affecting episode of Nisus and Euryalus. The General, 
and his companions. Colonels St. Clair, Maxwell, and 
Hazen, all appeared astonished at my information of the 
near approach of the enemy to Montreal. Maxwell in 
the Scottish dialect exclaimed, " Be the Lard, it cannot be 
IMSsible ;^* to which I emphatically retorted, '* Be the 
Lard, Sir, you know not what tjou say." Sullivan and 
St. Clair, who were both acquainted with me, interposed 
and corrected Maxwell's indecorum. It was acknow- 
ledged on all hands, that a detachment was necessary to 



as MEMOIRS BY 

CHAP. co-Operate with Arnold; but how to effect it, under tlie 
actual circumstances of the moment, was a matter of 
mucli difficulty : the night was profoundly dark; the rain 
pofired down in torrents ; the troops at hand were fa- 
tigued, and in great disorder; and there was no officer 
to receive or execute orders. After some deliberation it 
Is des- vvas determined, that I should proceed down the Sorel, 
wiih in- with instructions to Brigadier-general tlie Baron de 

structions Woedtke, who commanded the rear, to make a detach- 
to the 
Baron de ment of 500 men, to cover General Arnold's retreat, 

Woedike. rj^^^^ exercises of the day had prepared me rather for re- 
pose, and I was a stranger to the route; yet 1 received 
the order with cheerfulness. I was directed to keep tlie 
main road on the bank of the Sorel, which Colonel Hazen 
informed me, was quite plain and unobstructed; but lie 
deceived me, and owing to the darkness of the night, I 
presently missed my way, and narrowly escaped plunging 
into Little River, where it is twenty feet deep. After my 
escajjc, I dismounted, and securing my horse, groped my 
may in the dark, ancle deep in mud, until I discovered a 
bridge of batteaux, fornied for the passage of the infan- 
try, on which I crossed. 

I found every house and hut in my route crowded witli, 
stragglers, men without officers, and officers without men, 
yet could learn nothing of the Baron de Woedtke, ^verj 
one appearing stdely intent on his own accommodation 
and comfort. Despondency had seized on all ranks, and 
under favour of a dark and tempestuous night, with five 
hundred fresh men the whole army could have been de- 
stroyed. It is frojn such awful examples, the youthful sol- 
dier acquijes experience, and learns lessons of vigilance 
and caution, which are not to be attained on fields of 
parade, or in the theories of the ablest captains who ever 
lived. 

Wet to the skin, covered with mud, and exhausted by 
hunger, fatigue, and a night march of several hours, I 
threw myself down on the floor of a filthy cabin, and 
slept until the dawn of day, when I arose and prosecuted 
jny march in quest of the Prussian baron. The first offi- 




GENERAL WILKINSON. 53 

cer of my acquaintance whom I met, was Lieutenant- 
colonel William Allen of the 2(1 Pennsylvania regiment, 
who, to my inquiry for De Woedtke, replied, he had «?io 
doubt the beast was drunk, and in front of the army." I 
then informed him of my orders for a detachment, to 
cover Arnold's retreat from Montreal. His reply w^as 
remarkable : " This aimy, Wilkinson, is conquered by 
its fears, and I doubt whether you can draw assistance 
from it; but Colonel Wayne is in the rear, and if any one 
can do it, he is the man." On which I quic kened my pace, 
and half an hour after met that gallant soldier, with Falls in 
whom I had made an intimacy at New York, as much at nel Wayne 

his ease as if he was marching to a parade of exercise; whoexe- 

cuics the 
he confirmed Allen's report respecting De Woedtke, and o«ier. 

without hesitation determined to carry the order into ex- 
ecution if possible. For this purpose, he halted at the 
bridge, and posted a guard, with orders to stop every 
man, without respect to corps, who appeared to be active, 
alert, and equipped. Such was the effect of this plan, 
that, notwithstanding the disorder which prevailed, in 
less than an hour, the detachment was completely form- 
ed, and in motion for Longuille; when, by one of those 
caprices of the human mind which baffles inquiry, it was 
observable that those \ery men, who had been only the 
day before retreating in confusion, before a division of 
the enemy, now marched with alacrity against his main 
body ! 

We had proceeded about two miles, when we met an Arnold 
express from Arnold, with verbal information of his es- ''^^'"^^^^ 
cape from Montreal, and that he should be able to make 
good his retreat by La Prairie. 

This information brought Colonel Wayne to the right 
about. We crossed Little river at a ford, on tlie direct 
road from Longuille, and found the rear of the army had 
got up to Chamblee. Our detachment was discovered 
advancing on the bank of the Sorel, two miles below the 
fort; and its return by that route being unexpected, we 
were taken for the enemy, and great alarm and confusion 



m MEMOIRS BY 

CHAP, ensued in the main body of the troops ; the drums beat to 
__ arms, and General Sullivan and his officers were obi- 
served making great exertions to prepare for battle ; but 
at the same time, numbers were seen to seek safety by 
flight. Colonel Wayne halted his column, pulled out his 
glass, and seemed to enjoy the panic bis appearance had 
produced, until I suggested that he would interrupt the 
labours of tire troops on the portage of Chamblee, and 
delay the movement of the army ; after which he sent me 
forward to correct the delusion. On my approach to 
Chamblee, I met Colonel llazen on horseback, alone and 
at full speed directly towards the column of Cohmel 
Wayne. As he passed me, he inquired what troops those 
were in my rear, but made no halt, and I never have 
been able to penetrate the motive of this movement; for 
if it had been the enemy whom he approached, our army 
was irretrievably lost. On approaching General Sulli- 
van, I reported Colonel Wayne and liis detachment, and 
received orders for him to march by his right, on a de- 
vious path, which at a league's distance intersected the 
route from La Prairie to St. John's, and still to co-ope- 
rate with General Arnold, should it be found necessary ; 
but when we reached the road, we discovered that Arnold 
had passed, and the bridge of Little river on fire. We 
therefore turned to the left, and followed him to St. 
John's, where we arrived in the evening, and found Ge- 
neral Sullivan with the front of the army. 
June 18 ^^^^ whole of the troops, their baggage, stores and pro- 

The army visions, excepting three pieces of iron ordnance, were got 
andar-^ Up to St. John's two days afterwards; and the necessary 
rives at arrangements being made, the army embarked and moved 
aus Noix. "P ^'•'^ Sorel in the afternoon of the same day. After the 
last boat but Arnold's had put off, at his instance we 
mounted our horses, and proceeded two miles down the 
direct road to Chamblee, where we met the advance of 
the British division under Lieutenant-general Burgoyne. 
We reconnoitred it a few minutes, then gallopped back to 
St, John's, and stripping our horses, Arnold shot his 



GENERAL WILKINSON. £r5 

DWD, and ordered me to follow his example, which I did CHAP, 
with reluctance. The sun was now down, and the ene- 
my's front in view, when we took an affectionate leave of 
Colonel Louis, the faithful chief of the Cachnawaga tribe, 
and the only Canadian who accompanied the army in its 
retreat from Canada : he cast a sorrowful look at our 
boat, and retired precipitately into the adjacent forest. 
He continued firm in his attachment to our cause through- 
out the revolutionary contest. 

General Arnold then ordered all hands on board, and 
resisting my proffers of service, pushed off the boat 
with his own hands, and thus indulged the vanity of 
being the last man who embarked from the shores of the 
enemj. We followed the army twelve miles to tlie Isle 
aux Noix, where we arrived after dark, and found it en- 
camped on low, flat, wet ground, scarcely above the sur- 
face of tlie water. 

When these last scenes are reviewed, if the escape of our 
army from Canada was not countenanced by Sir Guy 
Carleton,* it must appear miraculous : on the one hand, 
our retreat was embarrassed by disease and incumbered 
with a ponderous aitirail; on the other, the pursuit de- 

* This suggestion springs out of the character of that distinguish- 
ed soldier and statesman ; and is grounded on the general tenor of his 
conduct to his prisoners, and the following authentic anecdote. 

Subsequent to the surrender of the British army at Saratoga, Cap- 
tain Richard England, of the 47th British grenadiers, with whom I 
had been previously acquainted, informed me, that after the affair o£ 
Three Rivers, and when our troops were retreating, being himself ad- 
vanced with a detachment in the pursuit, he received information, 
from a Canadian, of a party of the fugitives on a back route ; and Sip 
Guy Carleton coming up at the same time, he mentioned the circum- 
stance to him, and asked permission to cut it off, who replied, " What 
would you do with them; have you spare provisions for theni; or 
would you send them to Quebec to starve ? No, let the poor creatures 
go home and carry with them a tale, which will serve his majesty 
more effectually than their capture." If such benevolence had mark- 
ed the conduct of all the British commanders, the royal cause vvoulA 
have ha^ a much better chance of su«cessj 




0t> MEMOIRS BY 

pended solely on the discretion of the commander, whose 
vast superiority of force, comhined with its health and vi- 
gour, would liave justified any enterprize. But it seemed 
as if apprehension removed our debility, and gave wings to 
our fiet; whilst injudicious delays, unnecessary caution, 
or political considerations, retarded the movements of the 
enemy ; and instead of harassing our rear, interrupting 
our march, and forcing us to a general action, or putting 
us to the rout, the tardiness of his operations gave us 
time to retire, without the loss of either men or stores. 
General Sullivan, an officer of great resolution and 
perseverance, had determined to defend his position at 
the mouth of the Sorel, until forced from his purpose 
by tiie remonstrances of Colonel St. Clair and other 
iield officers; and to tliis cause may be ascribed the un- 
seasonable advice of his movement to General Arnold, 
and the advantage he gave General Carleton, who, with 
his whole army afloat, reached our position a few hours 
after General Sullivan had abandoned it. 
Conduct of Here General Carleton certainly committed a/awx pas^ 
Carleton. which as certainly saved our army, as will be apparent 
by a glance at the sketch of the country,* from which it 
will be seen, that MontJfeal and Chamblee are nearly 
equidistant from the mouth of the Sorel ; but that the 
courses of the two rivers contract the distance between 
the former places to about twelve miles. Now, if Sir 
Guy had made a prompt debarkation of his whole fore© 
at the Sorel, and detached his elite, with four day'g 
provisions on the men's backs, to overtake, harass, 
and delay our retreating, diseased, disordered, heart- 
broken corps, whilst his main body followed alertly to 
press an engagement; or if he had passed the Sorel with- 
out a halt, and availed himself of the same breeze which 
brought him to Varenne, where I met him at 2 o'clock 
the 15th, he could have reached Longuille the morning 
of that day, before I left Montreal or Arnold had received 
General Sullivan's despatch, and of consequence^ being 

* See Atlas, No. I. 



GENERAL WILKINSON. 5?^* 

on the north side of the St. Lawrence, we should have chap. 
been obliged to lay down our arms, without firing a shot. ' 
A column of five thousand men, despatched at the same 
time for Chamblee, would have intercepted General Sul- 
livan. In either case, the operation would have been de- 
cisive in the capture or destruction of the whole Ameri- 
can army in Canada. \ 

Fortunately for us, General Carleton adopted a differ- 
ent course ; he landed Lieutenant-general Burgoyne with 
a division of the army at Sorel, under orders of such 
marked circumspection, as cramped his natural enter- 
prize,* while Sir Guy himself proceeded up the river 
for Montreal with his main body; but in consequence 
of the failure of the wind, he halted at Varenne, where 
I fortunately met him, and by my prompt communi- 
cation to Arnold, enabled that officer to cross the St. 
Lawrence, in the course of the night, and, with all June 16th. 
his incumbrances, to elude the grasp of Sir Guy, by a 
march of 26 miles in one day, from Longuille, by La 
Prairie, to St. John's. 

By what a slight thread was the issue of the revo- 
lution at this moment suspended ! If our Canadian army 
had been lost, it is not improbaUe that the dubious ques- 
tion of independence, not yet decided at that juncture, 
would have been negatived, or possibly a negotiation 
opened with the British commissioners, and a reconcilia- 
tion with the parent state might have followed. General 
Washington, wiiose lofty soul and inflexible purposes 
were not to be affected by ordinary circumstances, in 
a letter to the President of Congress, describing our June 23d, 
scattered, divided, and broken Canadian army, thus ex- General 
presses himself: « I will only add my apprehensions, Washing- 
that one of the latter events, either that they are cut off, ter to 
or made prisoners, has already happened ; and if it has Congress. 
taken place, it will not be easy to describe all the fatal 
consequences that may flow from it." Wonderful indeed 
was our escape, and complicated the causes to which it 

• This 1 heard from General Burgoyne's own lips. 
VOL. I. H 



58 MEMOIRS BY 

CHAP, may be attributed ! But for General Carleton'a short halt 
at the mouth of the Sorel, the sudden failure of the breeze 
which wafted him up to Varenne, my fortunate rencon- 
tre of him at that place, and the tardy movement of the 
column under Lieutenant-general Burgoync, the appre- 
hensions of General Washington must inevitably have 
been realised. Whatever may have been the reflections 
of the philosopher or the casuist on that occasion, it was 
manifest to me that the hand of Heaven was interposed 
for our deliverance, as it frequently lias been in the cause 
of our country. Let us not then forfeit the Divine fa- 
vour, by the dereliction of religious and moral obligations, 
for the indulgence of those passions, which neither pro- 
mote our temporal comfort nor provide for our eternal 
happiness. 
Disho- Amidst the brilliant career which General Arnold was 

non.rable pursuing, he stained his character by an indelible act of 

conduct of * ° •' 

General dishonour, ascribed by many who knew him well, to the 
Arnold, prejudices of early education.* The order which I had 
rejected in Montreal, was carried into execution by a 
less scrupulous agent, and the merchants of that place 
were plundered of their merchandize, under the pretext 
of providing for the officers of the army. The booty was 
committed to the charge of a Captain Scott, a reduced 
officer of Jersey, conveyed across the lakes, and trans- 
ported to Albany, where it was sold. General Arnold 
pocketing the proceeds. This transaction was noto- 
rious, and excited discontent and clamour in the army; 
yet it produced no regular inquiry, though it sunk him 
in the esteem of every man of honour, and determined 
me to leave his family, on the lirst proper occasion; and 
this occurred at Ticonderoga in the following month. 

* He was represented to have been an half-bred apothecary, had 
became the skipper of a vessel, a trader to the West Indies, a dealer 
in liorses> and a bold adventurer in all his undertakings. 



GENERAL WILKINSON. 59 

l/aiB^fi'yJj^ CHAP. 



II. 



CHAPTER n. 

General Arnold departs from the Isle aux JVoia?, and 
arrives at Albany^ accompanied by Captain Wilkin- 
son. — Character of General Schuyler. — Question be- 
tween Generals Schuijler and Gates, as to the right 
of command. — Referred to the commander in chief. — 
General Sullivan''s reluctance to retire from Isle aux 
J^oix. — Determines to proceed to Crown Point. — The 
latter place abandoned. — Remonstrance of the field offi- 
cers. — General Washington's conduct on the occasion. 
— Description of Crown Point. — Taking of Ticonderoga 
and Crown Point, by General .Amherst. — Death of Ge- 
neral Predeaux before J^iagara. — Anecdotes of General 
Charles Lee. — Reasons for abandoning Crown Point. — 
A project of Captain Wilkinson. — The execution of it in- 
trusted to Captain Wilson, who fails in it. — Lieutenant 
Whitcomb's enterprise and Brigadier-general Gordon's 

death. — Arrest of Colonel Ila'zen by General Arnold . 

General Arnold's controversy with a general court mar- 
tial. — Conduct of General Gates. — Exposition of the re- 
lative powers of general courts martial, and the consti- 
tuent authority. — Tyranny and injustice of President 
Madison exemplified. — Remarks on the defects of our 
military code. — The site of Ticonderoga described. — Com- 
paiison of General Abercrombie's operations before Ticon- 
deroga in 1758, with those of General Packenham before 
JVew Orleans, in 1815, — Reflections offered to rash and 
inexperienced officers. — French Lines.-^-General Aber- 
crombie^s attack on them. — .Captain Wilkinson appointed 
Brigade-major, — General Arnold hoists his pendant on 
board the Royal Savage,— r-His instructions from General 
Gates. — Brigade major Wilkinson transferred to General 
Sinclair's brigade. — A glance at General St. Clair's mi- 
litary life, — Reflections on services and rewards.— The 



eo 



MEMOIRS BY 



tendency of public ingratitude. — Brigadier-general Ar- 
nold's naval operations. — Reflections on General Arnold's 
conduct, and the effects of his defeat. — General Cai'leton 
arrives at Crown Point, reconnoitres our works at Ti- 
conderoga, and retires into winter quarters. 



CHAP. 
II. 



June 19. 



Charac- 
ter of 
General 
Schuyler. 



June 27. 
Question 
between 
Generals 



The spoils wliich General Arnold had collected at 
Montreal, were before him on the way to Albany ; and 
he was interested in making arrangements for their dis- 
posal ; at the same time it was necessary General Schuy- 
ler, the chief of the northern department, should be ad- 
vised of the retreat of the army from Canada, and con- 
sulted in respect to future dispositions. On such an oc- 
casion, a free conference was to be preferred to a writ- 
ten correspondence; and who so proper for this commu- 
nication as the second in command. The mission corres- 
ponded with his views, and after receiving General Sul- 
livan's full instructions, with a despatch for General 
Schuyler, he embarked, accompanied by me, in an open 
boat, and proceeded for Albany, where we arrived the 
night of the 24th, and the next morning visited General 
Schuyler at his seat. 

This officer, an eleve of Major-general Bradstreet, in 
tiie seven year's war, possessed a strong, fertile and cul- 
tivated mind; with polished manners he united the most 
amiable disposition and insinuating address, and his con- 
vivial pleasantry never failed to interest and enliven his 
society : in the discharge of his military duties, he was 
able, prompt, and decisive, and his conduct in every 
branch of service marked by active industry and rapid 
execution; but he excelled in the departments of commis- 
sary and quarter-master general, of which he had ac- 
quired extensive knowledge in his former service ; yet, 
as General Gates had been appointed to supersede Ge- 
neral Sullivan in the command of the army of Canada, 
General Schuyler determined to await his arrival, which 
took place a day or two after, when a difficulty arose be- 
tween those gentlemen, respecting the right of command. 
Schuyler was the senior afficer, and commanded tlie 



GENERAL WILKINSON. 6| 

northern department; Gates had been appointed com- chap. 
inander in chief in Canada, with dictatorial powers,* ^*- 
until October ensuing; but the army to which he was g^j^^ j^^. 
appointed had retreated, and he found it within Schuy- and Gates, 
ler's jurisdiction. The tenacity of military chiefs, ^ ^^^'5 
might have found ample cause for dissension, in a case mand, 
where the manifest intention of the government had General ° 
been contravened by accidental circumstances; but to Washing- 
their mutual credit, an amicable explanation and a refer- 
ence to the commander in chief, removed every difficulty. 
When General Arnold left the Isle aux Noix, General 
Sullivan, reluctant to yield an inch of ground, indulged 
hopes he might be able to hold that position ; but such 
thoughts were soon dissipated by the inconvenience and 
insalubrity of the spot, embosomed in a low swampy wil- 
derness, with bad water, and within half musket shot of 
the main land on either side ; and his removal was pro- 
bably hastened by an unlucky accidentf which occurred 
a day or two after we took leave of him. Yet this gallant 
officer, unwilling to increase his distance from Canada, 
on breaking up his camp at tlie Isle aux Noix, meditated 
taking post at the Isle la Motte, near the foot of Lake 

* Extract of a letter from the honourable John Adams to Major- 
general Gates, dated 

" Philadelphia, June ISth, 1776. 
** My dear General, 

" We have ordered you to the post of honour, and made you dicta- 
tor in Canada for six months, or at least until the first of October. — 
We do not choose to trust you, Generals, with too much power for 
too long a time." 

f Without apprehension of danger, the officers were in the practice 
of visiting a Canadian hut on the western shore of the river, to drink 
spruce beer. The scouts of the enemy had observed this intercourse, 
and formed an ambuscade of Indians, who suddenly attacked an un- 
armed party, within eighty rods of the camp and in sight of the army, 
killed and scalped Captain Adams, Ensign Culbertson, and two pri- 
vates, and made prisoners Captain M'Lane, and Lieutenants M'Far- 
ran, M'Allister, and Hogg, with two privates; Captain Rippy and 
Lieutenant Rush made their escape in a canoe. I think the party was 
from the Pennsylvania line. 



62 



MEMOIRS BY 



CHAP. 
II. 



The {rciic- 
ral ofificers 
determine 
to aban- 
don Crown 
point. 



Kemon- 
slrancc of 
the field 
ofticera. 



General 

M'ashing- 
lon's con- 
duct on 
tlie occa- 
bion. 



Champlain; but wlien he reflected on the remoteness of 
that position from succour or resource, the deficiency of 
his means, the increasing sickness of his troops, and the 
want of suitable aliment for their comfort and cure, he 
determined to proceed np the lake to Crown point, where 
he halted and encamped, and wlien I reached that place, 
1 found the troops still festering in disease,* and the con- 
valescent engaged in fatigues, which indicated the inten- 
tion of a permanent establishment. 

Generals Schuyler, Gates, and Arnold, arrived a few 
days after, when an occurrence took place, w Inch is wor- 
thy note, because it will convey to the reader a distinct 
idea of the state of the discipline and subordination which 
j)ieviiiled in tlse American army at that time. The gene- 
ral officers, in a council of war, determined to abandon 
Crown pol)it in favour of Ticonderoga ; but so soon as 
this resolution was i)i'onu!lgated to the army, a number 
of the field officersf called a meeting, and entered into a re- 
monstrance against the decision of their superiors, which 
together with the proceedings of the council, was trans- 
mitted to the conunander in chief, General Washington, 
and caused him some inquietude; for, although he coin- 
cided in judgment with the field officers, those views of 
policy and piinciplcs of service which seldom failed him, 
prevented his approval of their remonstrance, and he 



• Extract of a letter from Major-general Gates, addressed to Mr. 
Hancock, President of Congress, dated 

" Ticonderoga, July 16th, 1776. 

"Upon my arrival at Albany the 2rth ultimo, General Schuyler as- 
sumed the command of the army in tliis department, alleging that 
the resolves of Congress and General Washington's instructions to 
me, were confined to Canada. I submitted, and went with Genai-al 
Schuyler and General Arnold to Crown point, where ue found the 
wretched remains of what was once a very respectable body of troops 
— that pestilential disease, the small pox, has taken such deep root, 
that the camp had more the appearance of a general hospital llian an 
arsiy formed to oppose the invasion of a successful and enterprsing 
enemy." 

t Colonel St. Clair did not join the protesters or approve their 
epiniua. 



GENERAL WILKINSON. 63 

contented himself with the exposition of his opinions* to CHAP. 
the President of Congress and Generals Sdiuyler and ''" 
Gates, which, owing to his defective knowledge of the 
topography of the country, happened in this instance to 
be erroneous. Generals Schuyler and Gates took fire at 
the implied censure of the general ofticers, who had givt?n 
their o,pinions to General Washington against the aban- 
donment of Crown point and the preference of Ticonde- 
roga. They made common cause, and in spirited terms 

• Extract of a letter from General Washing-ton to the President 
ef Congress, dated 

" JVew York, July 19th, 1776. 

" I confess the determinntlon of the council of general officers on 
the rth, to retreat from Crown point, surprised me much; and the 
more I consider it, the more striking does the impropriety appear. 
The rciasons assigned against it by the field officers in their remon- 
strance, coincide greatly with my own ideas and those of the othtr ge- 
neral officers I have had an opportunity of conversing with, and seem 
to be of considerable weight, I may add conclusive. I am not fully 
acquainted with the geography of that country, and the situation of 
the diflferent posts, as to pronounce a peremptory judgment upon the 
matter; but if my ideas are right, the possession of Crown point is 
essential to give us the superiority and mastery upon the lake. 

"That the enemy will possess it as soon as abandoned by us there 
can be no doubt; and if they do, whatever gallies or force we keep 
on the lake, will be unquestionably in their rear. IIow they are to be 
supported there, or what succour can be drawn from them there, is 
beyand my comprehension. Perhaps it is only meant that they shall 
be employed on the communication between that and Ticonderoga. 
If this is the case, I fear the views of Congress will not be answered, 
nor the salutary effects be derived from them that were intended. 

"I have mentioned my surprise to General Schuyler, and would 
by the advice of the general officers, have directed that that post 
s^iould be maintained, had it not been for two causes; an apprehen- 
sion that the works have been destroyed, and that, if the army should 
be ordered from Ticonderoga or the post opposite to it (where I pre- 
sume they are), to repossess it, they would have neither one place 
nor another secure and in a defensible state ; the other lest it might 
increase the jealousy and diversity of opinions which seem already 
too prevalent in that army, and establish a precedent for the inferior 
officers to set up their judgments whenever they would in opposition 
to those of their superiors, a matter of great delicacy, and that might 
lead to fatal consequences if countenanced: though, in the present 
instance, I could h«ve wished their reasoning had pievalled." 



64) MEMOIRS BY 

CHAP, vindicated their judgment to the commander in chiefs re- 
"• prehended in strong language, the general officers to whom 
General Washington alluded, and carried their complaints 
to Congress ; the steady temperate course, however, of 
the commander in chief prevented serious consequences. 
Descrip. Crown point is an elevated plain, interspersed with 
Crow^n irregularities, and hy the abrupt contraction of the lake, 
point, niay be considered its head land. It is formed by a deep 
bay on the west, which is skirted by a rugged steep 
mountain ; by the body of the lake on the north ; and a 
prolongation of its waters on the east, which from 500 
rods are suddenly contracted to 116 at Chimney point, 
opposite to the ruins of Fort Frederick, from whence in 
their course to Skeensborough (now White Hall), thej 
take the form and inflexions of a river considerably va- 
ried in its width. 
Taking of Tiiis Spot, Called "Pointe Chevelure" by the French, 
'iiconde- ^|jq ^^.g^. occupied it as a military position, in 1731, w'as 

rog-a and ^ ^ i ' ' 

Crown slightly fortified at the pass into the broad waters of 
1759 'b" ^^^ lake; their barrier post being Carillon, a quad- 
General rangular work, with regular bastions of masonry built 
on a rock, at Ticonderoga, fifteen miles south, but most 
injudiciously placed. On the approach of General Am- 
herst, in 1759, Mons. Bourlemarque the French com- 
mander, retired from Ticonderoga with his main body, 
leaving a garrison of four hundred men, to defend 
the fort, and intrenched himself on the opposite sides of 
tlie strait formed by Crown point and Chimney point. 
General Amherst opened trenches against Carillon the 
23d July, and the place was abandoned and blown up, 
after a feeble defence, on the 26th. Tiie British general 
advanced to Crown point the 4th of August, from whence 
the French troops had previously retired, and his chief 
engineer, Colonel Eyre, immediately selected the site and 
traced tlie lines of Fort Frederick, a regular pentagonal 
fortification, with three redoubts, calculated for a garri- 
son of 2000 men. A considerable part of the ditch of 
this work was blown out of solid lime- stone, the frag- 
ments of which, broken in small pieces, form part of the 



Amherst. 



GENERAL AVILKINSON. Q0 

glacis for the south-east curtain. After the peace of 1763, chap. 
this place was occupied by a subaltern, with a mere safe- ^^ 
guard, and was the residence of an engineer by the name 
of Benzel^ but it was accidentally burned before the 
American revolution. The position of Fort Frederick 
docs not appear to be the most judicious the ground ad- 
mitted ; it is in the angle formed by the bay on the w est, 
and the lake to the north, and was selected it would seem 
for the convenience of water, and the protection of the 
harbour. 

While General Amherst was engaged in the erection Death of 
of Fort Frederick, General Predeaux was slain at the preXaix 
siege of Niagara by the bursting of a shell just as it es- July 19, 
caped the mouth of a cohorn. Sir William Johnson suc- 
ceeded to the command, and after reducing the place, 
(July 25th,) Lieutenant Moncrief, accompanied by Gap- 
tain Charles Lee,* was despatched with the intelligence 
to the commander in chief at Crown point. Lee's family, Anec- 
fortiinc, education and talents gave hiui consideration in dotes of 

Cj c nc r 3 1 
the eyes of General Amherst, wIk), during his stay there, charies 

condescended to invite him to visit the works on which ^^^* 
the troops were labouring, and even to ask his opinions 
of them. Captain Lee commended the plan and execu- 
tion, but, having examined the circumjacent ground from 
the rampart, called the General's attention to a knob at 
half cannon shot, the summit of which commanded the 
crown of the parapet, and observed, that he **Jeared it 
might furnish an inconvenient lodgment to an enemy in case 
oja siege.^* The justice of the remark did not render it 
less unpalatable, for military chiefs are frequently more 
apt than any other men in power, to become impatient 
under the criticisms of tl»eir subordinates ; and Lee paid 
for his talents and sincerity.! He had expected leave to 

* Afterwards a major general in the service of the United States. 

f Few men have been more celebrated for neat bo7i mots, than Ge- 
neral Charles Lee, and we have rarely known a gentleman who deal^t 
more freely in biting sarcasm. The following anecdote is of the lat- 
ter cast, and, with that above cited, was derived from General Gates. 
During his visit at Crown point, Captain Lee dined with a mess of 
YOJi, I. I 



66 MEMOIRS BY 

CHA.P. spend the winter in the city of New York, but was re- 
manded to Niagara, and to reach that post, he was 
obliged to make tije circuit of Piiiladelpliia and Pitts- 
burgh, and from the last phice to traverse a wilderness 
of eighty leagues, by Le Boeuf and Presq' Isle; yet the 
General profited by Captain Lee's observations, and oc- 
cupied the offensive knob with a strong redoubt, the stone 
revetement of which continues in pretty good condition. 

Nevertheless, at the period of our retreat from Cana- 
da, the country to the westward being perfectly wild and 
iincultivatcd, and to the eastward but newly and thinly 
settled, we were obliged to draw our munitions of war of 
every species, from Albany and the New England states; 
if, then, we had in our diseased, enfeebled, and distract- 
ed state, attempted to hold possession of Grown point, 
we must on tire approach of Sir Guy Carleton, have re- 
tired or been captured; because by his hords of In- 
dians he could have cut off our communication with 
the interior, or turned our right, and taken post in our 
rear, as neither our numbers nor discipline warrant-ed 
our meeting him in the field ; but at the present day, 
should a national depot be deemed necessary on the 
v/aters of Lake Champlain, (with a strong barrier post 
at Rouse's point) Crown point presents as suitable a site 
as any to be found, with the advantage of half finished 
works, which would save at least an hundred thousand 
dollars expense. 

Immediately after the council. General Gates took com*, 
mand of the army, and returned to Ticondcroga, leaving 

liis brctliren of the sword, and among- them an officer, who had re- 
ceived a shot the precedinf^ campaign on the plains of Abraham, di- 
rect!} in the forehead, which, from the circumstance of the ball being 
flattened and spent by some previous collision and the particular po- 
sition of the head at the time, passed over the skull under the scalp, 
and was cut out at the occiput. To verily a fact so extraordinary, the 
ball was produced. In the course of the conversation which arose out 
of this incident, some one observed, that the officer who had been 
jwounded, ought to transmit the ball to tiie Royal Society, as a subject 
of natural curiosity; on which Lee drily observed, "The skull must 
be a subject of more curious inquiry, and should accompany the baU" 



GENERAL WILKINSON. 67:^ 

General Arnold at Crown point to bring up the rear, which chap, 
was accomplished leisurely and by detachments, without " 
interruption. Pending these movements, I projected a j^jj^ jj, 
little cntcrprizc that had for its object the capture of any I'rojectpf 
reconnoitring party of the enemy, which might be sent -vvfiicin- 
in quest of us ; it was my plan to descend t!ie lake under son. 
cover of the night, witb a couple of light batteaux and 
fifty men, to conceal myself during the day in creeks and 
inlets, and full upon the rear of any scout which mig!it 
follow tlie army. The boats were equipped under my 
particular attention, and the detachment selected; but, 
as the eastern troops to whicii I belonged had moved, the 
party was drawn from the Pennsylvania line, in conse^ 
quenceof which the officers objected to my command, and 
although supported by Arnold, I yielded my pretensions, 
on the ground of equity, to a Captain Wilson of Carlisle, Captaih 
who since lost his life in an electioneering fracas at that Wilson 
borough. This officer, impatient of success, adventured executin'^ 
too far, and was intercepted in the river Sorcl, near t!ie '^' 
Isle aux Noix, by Captain James H. Craig,* of the 47th 
British infantry, who had just embarked on a similar cn- 
ferprize, with a superior force, composed of a detach- 
ment of troops and Indians. Tins incident furnishes one 
instance among many, wherein my disappointments have 
eventuated fortunately, and justified the adage that " man 
may propose, but God will disjwse;^' a reflection which has 
proved a never failing source of consolation, under the 
sorest afflictions of my life. 

In this place the reader may not be dissatisfied with a 
particular narrative of an adventure, which terminated 
very differently from that undertaken by Captain Wil- 
son. The material fact has been recorded in history, 
and I shall now give the details, from my own know- 
ledge and the information of the partisan. 

Lieutenant "Whitcomb, of Warner's regiment, an unlet- Lleute- 
tcred child of the woods from the frontier of the Hamp- co'^Sn' 

* Sfnce a lieutenant-general in the Kritish army and governor ind 
captain-g^ncral of the Canadas. 



68 



MEMOIRS BY 



'I 

terpnze, 
and Bj'ig 
Gen. Gor 
don's 
death. 



CHAP, shire grants, with all the little stratagems of an Indian, and 
a dauntless heart, hail been selected for the service, and 
sent into Canada before General Gates's arrival, to take a 
prisoner, for the purpose of intelligence. Being well ac- 
quainted with his business, he chose one man only for 
the companion of his enterprize,* who he informed me, 
eitfier deserted him or got lost before he reached the ul- 
timate point of his marcli. Proceeding down the west 
side of Lake Cliamplain, Whitcomb turned St. John's on 
bis right, and approaching Cliamblee late in the night, 
wnintentionally crept witiiin the chain of sentinels of a 
newly formed encampment. lie was hailed, and found 
himself surrounded before he discovered his situation. 
The ground had not been cleared, and the surface was 
thickly covered with the sprouts of the scrubby oak, or 
blackjack, little more than knee high. Encircled and 
closely ])ressed by the soldiery in quest of him, who in 
the dark were scattered in every direction, his immediate 
escape became impracticable; in this extremity he sud- 
denly prostrated hiniself among the bushes, and distinct- 
ly heard the observations and inquiries of his pursuers 
respecting hiin; turning on his back, with his knife he 
cut detached twigs which he found within his reach, and 
sticking them carelessly in the ground around him, be- 
fore day his person was concealed, and in this position 
he continued motionless until the following night, when 
he made his escape, by crawling on the earth. He in- 
formed me, that in the course of tlie day, the soldiery 
frequently passed and repassed within six feet of him, 
and an olBccr very nearly rode over him; but the great- 
est danger of his being discovered arose from clearing off 
the ground, which was pushed within twenty feet of him 
the next day, when the retreat called off the fatigue. 

Having regained the forest, M'hitcomb concealed him- 
self a few days, until the alarm he had occasioned sub- 



* Numbers betray movements, particnlaily in forests, wliere the. 
pressure of the grass and the rumpling of the leaves, will enable an 
experienced l^and to track either man or beast withfacilifv. 



GENERAL WILKINSON. 60 

sWed, and lie then ambuscaded the road leading from chap. 



Chamblee to St. John's, at a point from whence his eye 
cohimanded an extensive view up and down. Here lie 
expected to intercept some unsuspicious passenger. 

The hard fortune of Brigadier-general Gordon of tlie 
British army, led him the same morning to take a soli- 
tary ride, and his approach was discovered by Whitcomb, 
soon after he had taken his stand. The General was in 
full uniform, his epaulets rich, he might have a gold watch 
and money about him, and he appeared to be a great 
chief. Tlie time for our partisan's return was at hand, 
and it was uncertain whether he could make a prisoner, 
and if he did, being alone, it would be difficult to conduct 
him in. This reasoning was too powerful for Whitcomb's 
sense of morals and humanity; he determined to disobey 
his orders, and marked his victim. Tlie road brought 
Gordon within thirty feet of Whitcomb's ambuscade; he 
presented, took aim, covered his object, and kept his 
sight on him until he got a side view of his back; he then 
fired, and the ball took effect under the right shoulder 
blade, but the wound, though mortal, did not produce sud- 
den deatli, and the General's horse carried him into St- 
John's, where he soon after expired. — Thus the assassin 
missed his spoil.'.'! 

That Whitcomb believed he was performing a merito- 
rious act, is cleaily evinced by his reporting it with exul- 
tation ; for it would otherwise have been impossible ever 
to have convicted him of it. In speaking of the adven- 
ture, he gave me the preceding details, and added that 
he " lost his object by shooting Gordon a little too high, 
owing to the accidental intervention of a Jluttering leaf, in 
the instant he pulled tiigger." 

This abominable outrage on the customs of war and 
Ihe laws of humanity, produced a sensation of strong 
disgust in the army, and men of sensibility and honour 
did not conceal their abhorrence of its perpetrator. Yet 
it was impossible, in the temper of the times, to bring 
him to punishment, without disaffecting the fighting men. 
j»n that whole frontier. 



II. 



70 MEMOIRS BY 

CHAP. But if lie could not be punished consistently with solirid 
**■ policy, yet his promotion to a majority the ensuing win- 
ter, not only sanctioned the murder but rewarded the 
murderer. — Suc'i are the dreadful demoralizing effects of 
war, and more yarticnlarhj of a civil war HI 
Arrest of Soon after the arrival of the troops at Ticondcroga, a 
Colonel p,.jyj^t(> animosity which had louif subsisted between Ge- 

Hazen, by ■ •' o 

Gi ncial nei'ul Arnold and Colonel liazcn, burst into a flame at»d 
Arnold, ppoduced the arrest of the Colonel, on a charge which 
favoured more of personal resentment, than a sense of 
public duty. A general court martial was ordered for 
liis trial, of which Colonel Enoch Poor was president, 
and in the course of the inquiry, a controversy arose be- 
tween the court and General Arnold, who appeared as 
prosecutor, which produced the following communi- 
cations : — 

. General Arnold lo the General Court Martial, 

General ** As the court have refused accepting my principal 

Arnold's evidence. Major Scott,* after having declared to them on 

sy wiih honour, that he had punctually obeyed my orders, re- 

tiie j^ne- gpectino. i\^q coods he had in charge from Montreal to 

ral court 1.^0 o 

marual. Chamblee, and of course is not at all interested in the 
event of Colonel Hazcn's trial, I do solemnly protest 
against their proceedings and refusal as unprecedented^ 
and 1 think unjust. 

« B. ARNOLD, Brig, Gen, 
»* Ticonderoga, Aug, 2d, 1776.'* 

Whereupon the court determined, that « this protest 
ajjpears to them illegal, illiberal, and ungentleman-like: 
for these reasons they have objected to its entry, and re- 
fuse ihc same." Tiie court moreover direct the presi- 
dent to demand satisfaction of the General, which was 
done in the following terms : 

* The GiApUin Scott who had charge of the plundered goods, beings 
reduced, 1 have understood, he afterwards joined tho enemy m New 
York. 



GENERAL WILKINSON. 7I 

CH\P 

To Bngadier-general Arnold. if 

<* Ticonderogaf Jlug. 3tf, 1776. 
" Sir, 

*< As you have evidently called in question not only 
the honour, but the justice likewise of this court, by the 
illiberal protest you have exhibited, the court have direct- 
ed me, and as president of this court I esteem it my duty, 
to inform you that you have drawn upon yourself their 
just indignation, and that nothing but an open acknow- 
ledgment of your errors will be received as satisfactory. 
« By order of the court, 

« ENOCH POOR, CoL ^ Pm'/." 

To which General Arnold made the following reply ; 

« Ticonderogaf Ang. 4th, 1776, 
" Gentlemen, 

« The very extraordinary vote of the court and direc- 
tions given to the president, and his still more extraor- 
dinary demand, are in my opinion ungenteel and inde- 
cent reflections on a superior oflicer, which the nature 
and words of my protest will by no means justify j nor 
was it designed as they have construed it. I am not very 
conversant with courts martial, but this I will venture to 
say, they are composed of men not infiillible^ even you 
may have erred. — Congress will judge between us; to 
whom I will desire the general to transmit the proceed- 
ings of this court. This I can assure you, I shall ever, 
in public or in private, be ready to support the character 
of a man of honour; and as your very nice and delicate 
honour in your apprehension is injured, you may depend 
as soon as this disagreeable service is at an end (which 
God grant may soon be the case), I will by no means with- 
hold from any gentleman of the court, the satisfaction 
his nice honour may require. — Your demand I shall not 
comply with. 

« B. ARNOLD. 
« To the Court MartiaL'* 



yg MEMOIRS BY 

CHAP. On the receipt of this letter, tlie court addressed Ma- 
^'' jor-general Gates : 

** Ticonderoga, .iug. 6th, ITTG* 
** Sir, 

<« We do not make any doubt of your havinj^ heard 
that tills court has taken umbrage, at some part of Ge- 
neral Arnold's behaviour in the course of his prosecution 
of Colonel Hazen. We are sensible men of rank should 
be treated with delicacy ; we are also sensible, that it is 
pur duty to maintain the dignity and authority of tli» 
court martial ; and that an attempt to lessen the one or 
render tlie other contemptible is proportionally a greater 
offence, as the person is in a station more elevated, and 
that passing over such attempts must have the worst ef- 
fects on the discipline of the army. 

«* We know we have power to compel parties before u» 
to decent behaviour, and to punish insults offered to us. 
'Tis a power incident to courts, and without which they 
would be ridiculous and nugatory. 'Tis a power we wish 
not to exercise in the case of General Arnold especially. 
A power liowever we must use in liis case, unless he 
gives this court the satisfaction tiiey have demanded. 
Justice to the army and to our country, require it of us. 
The case is shortly this : — A witness was offered to the 
court to support the charge brought by General Ai'nold 
against Colonel Hazen, to whom exception was taken, 
that he was interested in the event of the trial, and there- 
fore not admissible. The court, after hearing the alle- 
gations of both parties, adjudged that he was interested, 
and rejected him. Other witnesses were called, and the 
trial went on. After some time, General Arnold again 
pressed for the admission of the above witness, at the 
same time observing to the court, that he would enter a 
protest on their minutes unless his request should be 
granted ; — he was refused. He then offered his protest 
against our proceedings, couched we think in indecent 
terms, and directly impeaching the justice of the court. 
If he thought by his protest to stop the proceedings, he 



GENERAL WILKINSON. 73 

certainly has not considered how far that practice would chap, 
lead. If either party has a right to stop the proceedings "* 
by protest, both parties must have the same right, and 
then there needs nothing more to screen every oflfender 
from punishment; and, on the other hand, it would ex- 
pose a person, who miglit have the misfortune to be ob- 
noxious to his superior officer, to perpetual persecution; 
—however conscious of his innocence, in vain would he 
expect redress from a general court martial; for in the 
moment of a well founded expectation of an honourable 
acquittal, a protest appears and blasts it all, and sends 
him back to his room a melancholy prisoner. But on the 
contrary, if his design was no more, than by an entry of 
his protest on our minutes, to operate against the justice 
and equity of our proceedings, we must and do consider 
ourselves as an improper conveyance to our superiors of 
that protest, which was so replete with crimination and 
abuse. "VVe could add, that the illiberal sentiments of the 
protest was not the only injury offered us : the whole of 
tlie General's conduct during the trial, was marked with 
contempt and disrespect towards the court; and by his 
extraordinary answer, he has added injury to insult. 

We have mentioned these things, that you might know 
what were our motives in this matter; and our principal 
design is this, that through you General Arnold may 
know the light in which we have seen this matter, which 
we flatter ourselves you will readily see the propriety of, 
and from the regard you have for the honour, the disci- 
pline, and subordination of the array, you will not by a 
sudden dissolution, put it out of our power to obtain that 
satisfaction we are entitled to. 

« By order of the court. 

« ENOCH POOR, Col. ^ Fres't. 
" To Major-general Gates, 

Comd'g the JVorthern Army J* 

On the receipt of this letter. General Gates, who ba- 
lanced between the policy of justifying the court or pro- 
tecting General Arnold, determined in favour of the lat- 

VOL. I. K 



74 IVIEMOIRS BY 

CHAP, tev ; the court was immediately dissolved, and Arnold the 
^^' following day was appointed to command the squadron 
proposed for the defence of the lake. 

The occurrences on this trial, from its origin to its 
close, present a very melancholy series of examples, to 
show how feeble are the barriers of law, against the in- 
fluence or the partialities of men possessing powers over 
which there is no controul. The example of those trans- 
actions and of some others, appear to have had a most 
unhappy influence on the military jurisprudence of the 
United States. In this work there will be found more 
than one case of a similar character, in which the private 
passions and particular influence of men intrusted with 
honourable command, have prevailed with wrong on their 
side over every principle of constitution, justice, and dis- 
regard of honour. The annexed letter will exhibit a spe- 
cimen of the mode in which usurpation secretly conducts 
its operations, and blinks at the public credulity, which 
presumes that all things are fair and above board. 

Extract of a letter from Major-general Gates to his Excel- 
lency John Hancock, esq. President of the General Con- 
gress, dated Ticonderoga, Sept. 2d, 1776. 

<•' By this conveyance your excellency will receive a 
large packet containing the proceedings of a general court 
martial, held by my order upon Colonel Hazen, upon a 
complaint exhibited by Brigadier-general Arnold. The 
warmth of General Arnold's temper might possibly lead 
him a litte further than is marked by tlie received line of 
decorum to be observed before and towards a court mar- 
tial. Seeing and knowing all circumstances, I am con- 
vinced if there was a fault on one side, there was too 
much acrimony on the other. Here again I was obliged 
to act DicTATORiALLT, and dissolve the court martial the 
instant they demanded General Arnold to be put in arrest. 
The United States must not be deprived of that excellent 
officer's services at this important moment. I wish your 
excellency would represent this affair in the most favour- 
able light to Congress. Upon such occasions, there is a way 



GENERAL WILKINSON. 75 

to satisfy complaints without publicly disgracing those com- CHAP, 
plained of, especially when a general officer of acknow- ^^' 
ledged merit is a party concerned." 

Such was the popularity Arnold had acquired hy his abor- 
tive enterprize across the wilderness, from Kennebeck to 
the St. Lawrence; fruitful only in the sufferings and sacrifice 
of many brave men ; — such the effect of popular influence 
on military power, that in this instance, the principles of 
justice were subverted, and the best interests of the army 
sacrificed: and, as our system of military jurisprudence, 
under the management of arbitrary chiefs and despotic 
ministers, still continues to be little more than a mock- 
ery, the respect and the regard which I bear the profes- 
sion of my early choice, degraded as it has been by Pre- 
sident Madison, from the lofty ground of characteristic 
frankness and punctilious honour, to the base level of his 
own corrupt intrigues and hideous hypocrisy, will induce 
me, for the information of the honourable and ingenuous 
who still wear the sword, to hazard a brief analysis of 
the relative powers of general courts martial and the con- 
stituent authority. 

A general court martial, a tribunal of the highest mi- Exposi- 
litary jurisdiction, ought always to be attended by order- i.e*lative '^ 
ly officers and a guard, proportioned to its rank and the power of 
solemnity of the inquiry, for the preservation of order courts 
and the maintenance of decorum, the escort of prisoners, "i^'"*'*^ 
and the service of precepts. These omrcrs and guards consti- 
are to a court martial what the sheriff and his subordi- \"^"5 *"* 

thonty. 

nates are to a court of civil jurisdiction, and the former 
court possesses the same power over military persons, 
whether prisoners, prosecutors, or witnesses, and over all 
bystanders, civil or military, who misconduct themselves 
in its presence, as the latter has over all persons con- 
ducting themselves improperly, under similar circum- 
stances. Wliilst in session, the powers of general courts 
martial, within the limits of tlicir jurisdiction, arc su- 
preme and absolute, and they may arrest and place un- 
der guard any person whatever, who shall presume to 
come before them and behave irreverently. 



76 MEMOIRS BY 

CHA.P. This right, wliich is of great antiquity, is deduced from 
*'• natural reason — is founded in the necessity of the case, 
and is indispensable to the end of justice ; without this 
self protection, a court would be liable not only to insult, 
menace and obstruction in its proceedings, but to be 
biassed in its deliberations and deterred from the exer- 
cise of its judgment. It appertains, at the same time, to 
the appointing power, to dissolve general courts martial 
in any stage of their proceedings, which is essential to 
the entire responsibility of a chief; but the exercise of 
this authority ^f pendente lite,^* is a measure of extreme 
delicacy, and should never be resorted to, except in cir- 
cumstances of imperious and justifiable necessity, such 
as the pressure of an enemy, sudden movements, battles, 
and a dispersion of the corps; or it may become neces- 
sary for the repression of factious, licentious, and sedi- 
tious proceedings, to which prejudiced and corrupt tri- 
bunals are liable: — a disgraceful instance of this kind 
occurred under the orders of Brigadier-general Hamp- 
ton, at the Washington cantonment, in the Mississippi 
territory, in the case of Captain Winfield Scott, which 
inflicted a deep wound on the fundamental principles of 
subordination and discipline. 

But in our government, where the rule of conduct is 
prescribed by the laws, and not by the arbitrary will of 
an individual, no officer, be his rank what it may, pos- 
sesses the right to deny an arrest ; and the act would iu 
itself be a dangerous usurpation: in such a case, the de- 
nial of justice might amount to the commission of injus- 
tice, and the assumption of power would annul the law* 
martial, and make the breast of the commander the sole 
depository of military justice; it would sanction abuses 
of every kind, and subvert the foundations of subordina- 
tion and discipline. Extraordinajy events, which re- 
quire every head and every hand for the defence of the 

* The 77th article of war declares, "whenever an officer shall be 
charged with a crime, he shall be arrested and confined in his bar- 
racks, quarters, or tent, and deprived of his sword by his command- 
ing officer." 



GENERAL WILKINSON. yy 

state, will warrant the suspension of an arrest; but no chap. 
circumstance can occur to justify a refusal. Yet it will ^'• 
be seen in the third A^olume of this work, by the testimo- _, 

•' 1 yranny 

ny of that right worthy man. Major Nicoll, formerly ad- andinjus- 
jutant and inspector general, that President Madison, prestdent 
who has always been so ready to hang me up, on the de- Madison 
vices of his own heart or the fictions of others, did au- g^^™^ '" 
thorise the suppression of an arrest prepared for Briga- 
dier-general Hampton ; he treated the offender with cour- 
tesy, indulged his caprices, and finally suffered him to 
resign his commission and escape the justice of his coun- 
try; although his secretary of war, General Armstrong, 
stood pledged to me, as will also be seen in these sheets, 
that Hampton should be brought to an inquiry for his 
conduct in command ; after which, our virtuous President 
made no hesitation to arrest and rob me of command /or 
a year, on the secret slanders of a hand of informers, who 
sought my destruction for their own emolument, and have 
not dared to shew their faces. 

Our military code is extremely defective. An attempt Remark 
was made to revise it in 1806, when it was made worse; fe"cts of ' 
and at best it is but a servile copy of the British articles our miii- 
of war. On a cursory view it strikes me, that the pro- ^^^^^^ ^■ 
cedure of British naval courts martial is suited to the 
principles and spirit of our government, and, suitably 
modified, would be well adapted to our service. British 
naval courts martial not only arraign and try the pri- 
soner, but they pass final judgment, w ithout reference to 
any power whatever; and it appears unreasonable, that 
the judgment of thirteen honourable men, acting under 
an oath, should be set aside by an individual at his dis- 
cretion, who is a stranger to the sensibilities of a sailor 
or soldier, is controuled by no sensible obligation, and 
never read a word of law. Tliis system would also pro- 
tect the service against the ignorance and brutality of 
arbitrary, upstart, immoral commanders, of whom I can- 
not convey my idea in a more concise manner, than by a 
reference to my general order of 15th December, 1815, 
and the cruel treatment of Captain Joseph Treat, of the 



78 MEMOIRS BY 

CHAP, late 21st regiment United States infantry, as set forth in 
"■ a pamphlet published by him in Philadelphia, 1815, in 
which he invokes the justice of the cold hearted Presi- 
dent Madison without effect.* 
The site I will now resume my narrative, with a short de- 
deroffade- scription of Ticonderoga, which is situate about fifteen 
scribed, miles south of Crown point, and about thirty north of 
Skeensborough, where Wood creek falls into Lake 
Champlain. It is formed by a sharp angle in the nar- 
row waters of the lake and an arm of that lake stretch- 
ing to the westward, which receives the waters of Lake 
George, at the foot of a precipitous fall of about twenty 
feet. The stream which connects these lakes makes a 
considerable curvature to the west, and in the distance 
of two miles tumbles over successive strata of rocks about 
three hundred feet, the difference of the level between the 
surface of Lake George and thiit of Lake Cham])lain) 
furnishing a variety of excellent mill sites, accessible to 
the navigable waters of Lake George, forty miles, and to 
those of Champlain and the river Sorel, about one hun- 
dred and thirty miles. 

This position was fortified by the French long before 
the war of 1756. The work which has been described, 
was commanded on three sides ; but is rendered famous 
July 8, by the repulse of General Abercrombie, with the loss of 
near 2000 men in killed and wounded, although he might, 
by taking possession of a neighbouring height, called 
Mount Defiance, have carried the place without hazard- 
ing a man. This operation bears, in its improvidence 
and consequences, a more close resemblance to the enter- 
prize of General Packenham before New Orleans, than 
any event which has occurred in the history of North 
America, whether viewed in relation to the blind teme- 
rity of the attack, tiie disparity of the force engaged, the 
gallantry displayed by the combatants, the comparative loss 
on either side, and the immediate results of the repulse.f 

* See Appendix, No. V. 

f Before New Orleans, the British force was estimated at 12,000 
men, and the American at 3,500. At Ticonderoga the British force 



17 5S. 



GENERAL WILKINSON. 

Let the inexperienced commander profit by such sense- 
less audacity; let him reflect, that although rashness may 
sometimes succeed against a self-confident, unwary an- 
tagonist, it cannot be justified but in desperate cases, 
such as the straits of Thermopylse, where the fate of a 
nation was at hazard, or where he is left without alter- 
native, and by possible success may gain much, but by 
probable discomfiture can lose little. Such enterprizes 
may be compared to deep play, by which a gambler may 
advance his fortune but cannot injure it. General Wolfe's 
attack upon Quebec, General Washington's enterprize 
against Trenton, and Bonaparte's invasion of Italy by 
Mount St. Gotbard, were all rash undertakings, unwar- 
rantable but by the exigent circumstances which pro- 
duced them. In the first instance, Montcalm failed in 
vigilance, or it would have been impossible for General 

consisted of 6,000 regular troops and 10,000 provincials, and the 
French were estimated at 1,000 troops of the line and 1,500 Canadian 
peasantry. In both cases the British suifered great slaughter, and in 
neither was the loss of the French or Americans, deemed worthy of 
historical record. 

COJriRJlST. 



l^oss of British army before Ticonde- 


Lossof British army before N. 


roga, July 8th, 1758, under Major- 


Orleans, Jan. Slh, 1814, un- 


general Abercrombie. 


der Major-gen. 


Packenham. 




Regulars. 


Prov'ls 




Regulars. 




K. 


VV. 


M 


K~ 


VV. 


M 


K. 


W. 


M. 


Brig, Generals 


1 






1 






Major-generals 


1 


2 




Cols, and Lt. Cols. 


2 








3 




Lt. Colonels 


1 


3 




Majors 


4 


2 




1 






Majors 


2 


2 




Captains 


5 


26 






6 




Captains 


5 


18 


o 


1-ieuteiiants 


10 


28 


2 


5 


9 




Lieutenants 


2 


38 


12 


Ensigns 


5 


9 






1 




Ensigns 


2 


9 




Engineers 


1 












Staff 




1 




Adjutants 




1 




1 






Sergeants 


11 


54 


13 


Quarter-masters 


1 


1 










Drummers 


1 


9 


4 


Sergeanls 


14 


44 


1 


4 


15 


1 


Rank &, file 


266 


1126 


452 


Rank & file, and > 
drummers 3 






















424 


1006 


27 


75 


206 


8 


Total 


291 


1262 


484 


Total 


467 


U17 


30 


87 


240 


9 






Total regulars ai 


id p 


rovin 


cii 


lis 


195 





Total 2037 









CHAP. 
II. 



Extracted from Knox's Historical Journal, p. 152. and the Dep. 
Adjt. General's return, transmitted by Major-general Lambert to his 
government. 



80 MEMOIRS BY 

CHAP. Wolfe to have climbed the heights of Abraham; in the 
^'' second, Rahl and his officers, beguiled by a false confi- 
dence, were sleeping after a debauch, or General Wash- 
ington would not have surprised him, and the Hessian 
could have retreated on Princeton or Bordentown ; and 
still more extraordinary, in the last case, Melas, wrapt in 
security, suftered Bonaparte to pass the critical defiles of 
the mountains, and to choose his ground on the plains of 
Italy without molestation, and finally, by giving himself 
up to victory, lost the battle of Marengo. 
French When the French officer who commanded at Ticonde- 

General roga heard of General Abercrombie's approach, he found 
■^''^''" . , it necessary to the defence of the post, to take possession 
attack of of an elevated ridge on the direct route to it, from the 
them. landing at Lake George, which, at less than half a mile, 
entirely overlooked the works. This ridge is flat on the 
summit, and extends westwardly about half a mile to the 
saw mills at the perpendicular fall before mentioned, 
where it terminates in still higher ground, called Mount 
Hope, On the soutli it presents a bold acclivity, washed 
by the strait, and to the north it declines until it sinks 
into a plain, which is extended about an hundred rods to 
the shore of the lake, where the bank is ten or twelve feet 
high ; across the crown of this ridge, at the extremity 
nearest the fort, the garrison hastily threw up an in- 
trenchment with a common ditch judiciously flanked, 
which was strengthened by felling the forest trees in front 
outwards, and these they trimmed, pointed, and form- 
ed into an impervious abbatis, sixty or eighty rods deep, 
in whicli the assailants became entangled, and were deli- 
berately shot down; until after repeated attempts, during 
four hours, in which the most persevering resolution was 
displayed, they were called oft', and the army immediate- 
ly retreated without molestation. 
July 17, As soon as the rear of our army got up from Crown 
point, and the camp was pitched, our labours were direct- 
ed to the improvement of the old French lines, and the erecr 
tion of new works on the same side of the lake, and also on 
Mount Independence, which is separated from Ticonde- 
roga by a strait about 80 poles wide ; at the same time 



GENERAL WILKINSON. 81 

sliipwrl.^lits were drawn from otir sea-ports, and every chap. 
exertion put in operation for tlie construction and equip- " 
merit of an armed flotilla^ the chief command* of which, as 
has been remarked, was conferred on General Arnold, 
who immediately entered upon the active duties of the 
station ; and I emhraced the occasion to retire from his 
family, and was appointed a major of brigade to the 
troops destined to take possession of Mount Indepen- 
dence, where I pitched my tent amidst its native forest. 

By great industry two schooners and several smaller July 30. 
vessels, were soon got ready for service, and fell down 
the lake to Crown point, and were followed by others, as 
fast as they could he equipped and manned. General Aug. 16. 
Arnold took the immediate command of the squadron, ^^."^[^ 
under particidar instructions, and, transformed into a takes 
commoddre, hoisted his broad 'pendant on hoard the ^°'^j,'^^" 
schooner Royal Savage, mounting eight 6 and four fleet. 
4 pounders with ten swivels and fifty men j and sailed Aug. 24. 
down the lake with ten sail, to keep a look out for the 
enemy, to train his landsmen to naval service, and to 
manoiuvre his little .squadron, but under positive orders 
fivmi General Gates not to proceed " below the narrow 
pass formed by the Isle aux Tefes and the opposite shore^" 
and to nm no "wanton mfe." Two gondolas joined him 
the beginning of September, and three heavy gallies the 
beginning of October. General Arnold's respect for his 
orders, and his competency to the trust reposed in him, 
will be seen in the result. 

•• Orders and instructions for the Hon. Benedict Arnold, esq. General 
Brigadier-general in the army of the United States ?/" .sir net ions' 
Jlmerica. to Brig. 

Gen. Ar- 

" Upon your arrival at Crown point, you will proceed "old. 
with the fleet of the United States under your command, 

* General Arnold's condescension in giving up the right wing of 
tlie army for that of our flotilla, was ascribed to the following causes: 
1st. Ilis enterprizing spirit, which seldom calculated chances; 2d. His 
impatience of comm-ind; 3d. His thirst for personal fame ; and 4th. 
His unpopularity with the army at that period. 
VOL. I. L 



S% MEMOIRS BY 

CHAP, down Lake Champlain to the narrow pass of the lake 
*'■ made by Isle anx Tetes* and the opposite shore. You 
will station the fleet in the best manner to maintain the 
possession of those passes, according as your judgment 
shall determine, cautiously avoiding to place the vessels 
in a manner which might unnecessarily expose them to 
the enemy's heavy artillery from the shore. 

« You will most religiously observe that it is my posi- 
tive order, that you do not command the fleet to sail be- 
low the pass of the Isle aux Tetes above mentioned, in- 
cessantly reflecting, that the preventing the enemy's in- 
vasion of our country, is the ultimate end of the impor- 
tant command with which you arc now intrusted. It is 
a defensive war we are carrying on; therefore no wanton 
risk or unnecessary display of the power of the fleet, is 
at any time to influence'your conduct. Should the enemy 
come up the lake, and attempt to force their way through 
the pass you are stationed to defend, in that case you 
will act with such cool determined valour as will give 
them reason to repent their temerity. But if, contrary 
to my hope and expectation, tlieir fleet should have so 
increased as to force an entrance within the upper part 
of the lake, then after you shall have discovered the in- 
sufficiency of every efliirt to retard their progress, you 
will in the best manner you can, retire with your squadron 
to Ticonderoga. Every vessel in the fleet being fur- 
nisiied with a battcau, you will have it in your power to 
keep out scout boats at night, and occasionally to annoy 
the enemy's small craft. In the day time your boats can 
act when opportunity offers, under cover of the cannon 
of the fleet. 

"As the most honourable the Congress of the United 
States, rest a great dependence on your wise and prudent 
conduct in the management of this fleet, you will, on no 
account detach yourself from it, upon the lesser services 

• No such islands are to be found in any modern map; but the di- 
rection must have been intended for the Split Rock, where, by the 
bye, the lake is ten times as wide as it is generally represented to be. 



GENERAL WILKINSON. Si 

above mentioned. A resolute but judicious defence of the chap. 
northern entrance into this side of the continent, is the " 
momentous part which is committed to your courage and 
abilities. I doubt not that you will secure it from fur- 
ther invasion. 

"As I am entirely unacquainted with maritime af- 
fairs, I shall not j)resume to give any directions respect- 
ing the duty and discipline of the seamen and marines on 
board the fleet. I have traced the great outline of tliat 
service, which your country expects from tlie rank and 
character you have acquired. 

« I have, as is my i]i\ty, fixed the limits hetjond which 
you are not to go; but you must communicate that re- 
striction to nobody. I wish on the contrary, that words 
occasionally dropped from you, with that prudence which 
excludes every sort of affectation, and which, I believe, 
you possess, may, together with all your motions, induce 
our own people to conclude it is our real intention to in- 
vade the enemy, whicli after all may liappen ; it will keep 
up their spirits witljout affecting your reputation, what- 
ever may be the event. 

« It only remains for me to recommend you to the 
protection of that Power, upon whose mercy we place 
our hopes of freedom here and happiness hereafter. 

"You will frequently report the state and situation of 
your fleet, and of exevy interesting occurrence. 

« Given at Ticonderoga this 7th day of August, 1776. 
" HORATIO GATES, Maj. Gen. 
" Brig. Gen Arnold." 

I remained with the brigade on Mount Independence, 
until the beginning of September, when Brigadier-gene- 
ral de Roche Fcrmoy took command of it, and 1 was 
transferred to that able but unfortunate officer. General 
St. Clair, to whose instruction I am much indebted for 
my principles of service and knowledge of details. He 
had been introduced at an early age into the Royal Ame- 
rican or 60th British regiment, and during the seven 
year's war, had seen a great deal of active service under 



8^ MEMOIRS BY 

CHAP, distingiiislied commanders. He served jit the takin.^ ot* 

Louisburgh under General Amliei-st, and t!ie next cam- 

A e:lance P^^S" carried a pair of colours on the plains of Abra- 

at General ham, the day General Wolfe bartered his life for death- 

St Clair's 

military ^^^'^ renown. The native ingenuity, liberal education, li- 

life. terary taste, and polislied address of Ensign St. Clair, 

could not escape the observation of the conqueror of Ca- 
nada, and his able coadjutoi-s, Moncton, Townshend, and 
Murray; and the circumstance of their attentions en- 
larged his sphere of information, and gave scope to his 
genius and dispositions. After the peace of '03, he sold 
out and entered into trade, for which the generosity of 
his nature utterly disqualified him ; he, of course, soon 
becamcdisgustedwithaprofitlesspursuit, and havin.!^' mar- 
ried, after several vicissitudes of fortune, he located himself 
in Ligonicr valley, west of the Alleghany mountain, and 
near the ancient route from Philadelphia to Pittsburgh. 
In this situation the American revolution found him, sur- 
rounded by a rising family, in the enjoyment of ease and 
independence, with the fairest prospects of affluent for- 
time, the fonndation of which had been already establish- 
ed by his intelligence, industry and cnterprize. From 
this peaceful abode, these sweet domestic enjoyments and 
the flattering prospects wiiich accompanied them, he was 
drawn by the claims of a troubled country. A man 
known to have been a military officer, and distinguished 
for knowledge and integrity, could not, in those times,* 
be concealed even by his favourite mountains, and there- 
fore, without application or expectation on his part, he 
received the commission of a colonel in the month of De- 
cember, 1775, together with a letter from President Han-^ 
cork, pressing iiim to repair immediately to Philadelpliia. 
He obeyed the summons, and took leave not only of his 
wife and children, but in effect of his fortune, to embark 



* Such was our ignorajice of arms in those days, that a knowledge 
of the manual exercise, gave a man importance ; and 1 knew two Bri- 
tish deserters. Box and Johnson, who were made majors of brigade 
because of their supposed knowledge of details. 



GENERAL WILKINSON. 85 

in tlie cause of liberty and tlie united colonies. In six chap. 
weeks he completed the levy of a regiment of 750 men; ^^' 
six companies of which marched in season to join our 
troops before Quebec ; he followed with the other four in 
May, and after the unlucky affair at Three Rivers, by 
Ills counsel to General Sullivan at Sorel, he saved the 
army we had in Canada. Subsequently to these events, 
he rose to the rank of major-general, and was honoured 
with the confidence and friendship of General Wasliing- 
ton to the day of his death. At Trenton he saved the 
army by the flank movement to the right, which he re- 
commended in council on the night of the 2d Jan. 1777; ' 
and at Ticonderoga, in the same year, I beheld him rising 
superior to the selfish obligations which fetter mankind; 
and by preferring the safety of the army confided to his 
charge, to the bloody honours which were within his 
reach, he voluntarily plunged himself into the gulf of po- 
pular detraction. Well do I remember his reply to me, J"ly 6, 
when deploring the necessity of our retreat : " It must be ' 
so my boy. < Tis not in mortals to command success, but 
tve'U do more, we will deserve it.' I know I could save 
my character by sacrificing the army ; hit were I to do so, 
I should forfeit that which the world could not restore, and 
which it cannot take away, the approbation of my own con- 
science.'^ What a noble sentiment ! Can such services Reflec- 
and sacrifices be balanced hy pelf ? and is it meet that services 
such a patriot should be suffered to drag out a tedious ^^^ 'e- 
term of old age in indigence, and be buried in obscurity? 
Do such glaring neglects comport with the liberality and 
beneficence of an enlightened Christian people ? Are they 
consistent with justice and sound policy ? Reason and 
humanity revolt against these propositions ! and it is 
hoped, that the virtue and good sense of the people, wliich 
when spontaneously exerted seldom err, may be actively 
interposed to rescue the country from the sin of ingrati- 
tude, and the shame of neglecting those faithful citizens, 
whose whole time has been devoted to the public service. 
A contrary course pursued by the agents of the govern- 



86 MEMOIRS BY 

CHAP, ment, has already tarnished the character of the repub- 
"■ lie, and, if persisted in, will sap the foundations of pa- 
and the triotism. Convert the military into mercenaries, and the 
effects of civil functionaries into sordid speculators; and instead 
gratitude, of a magnanimous policy, the views of our public coun- 
cils will be contracted to the narrow circle of selfish in- 
terest; and then the love of our country, and our adminis- 
tration of its constitution, will yield to avaricious pas- 
sions and ambitious projects, and like our primitive pa- 
rents, and every people who have gone before us, we 
sliall forfeit for a shadow, the solid blessings prepared 
for us by an indulgent Creator. 

Whilst actively engaged in the duties of my station- 
while every hand was employed in preparing for the re- 
ception of the enemy, and c\evy heart panted for the 
rencontre, I was suddenly struck down by a typhus fever 
which prevailed with great violence, and swept oflT more 
than one thousand of our troops. Disappointment and 
chagrin exasperated my disease, until it was considered 
necessary to remove me to the south end of Lake George, 
under the personal attendance of Doctor Jonathan Potts, 
the surgeon-general. There, in spite of medical art, I 
was reduced to the last extremity j exevy hope of my re- 
covery had expired; I was consigned to the grave, and 
a coflin was prepared for my accommodation. Life trem- 
bled over the verge of eternity — the immortal spirit had 
fled its mortal tabernacle, but returned again *' as loth to 
quit its hnld,'^ and after a most severe struggle, my youth 
and constitution prevailed. As soon as I could bear the 
motion of a wagon, I insisted on being removed from the 
scenes of mortality wliich surrounded me, and placed on 
a bed, was transported to Albany, where, I must be par- 
doned the expression of my gratitude, I was restored to 
health by the fostering care of the late P. Van Renssa- 
laer, esq. and his amiable lady, and the tender attentions 
of General Schuyler and his respectable consort. But I 
did not recover my wonted strength until thq spring, al- 
though I bore my part in a winter campaign, the most 
distressing and the most important of my country. 



GENERAL WILKINSON. 87 

Being forced from the scene of operations by the hand chap. 
of Heaven, what I shall say of the subsequent events of *'■ 
the campaign of 1776, in the northern department, is 
founded on information derived from correct sources, and 
my own knowledge of the topography of the country. 

After sailing from Crown point. General Arnold, not- General 
withstanding his instructions, put no limits to his cruise, ^ ™i ^p^i 
and about the middle of Sept. he was apprised of the supe- rations. 
riority of the enemy's squadron, by one of his own spies;* 
but as this information did not accord with his desires, 
he on the report of a couple of imposters, who pretended 
they had reconnoitred the Isle aux Noix, converted the 
faithful agent into «a spy for the enemtj" and sent him 
in irons to General Gates, by whom he was transferred 
to the public prison in Albany. Tliis incident may serve 
as a warning to military men, to guard against their pas- 
sions and prejudices, in estimating the reports of secret 
intelligencers. On the 9th of October his squadron con- 
sisted of three schooners and one sloop, carrying six and 
four pounders, eight gondolas or gun boats, with twelve 
and nine pounders, and three gallics bearing three or 

• Extract of a letter from Brigadier-general Arnold to Major-gene- 
ral Gates. 

" This morning (Sept. 16.) at one o'clock, Antolne Gerouse, alias 
Gerard, a Frenchman -whom 1 sent to St. John's, returned, and gives 
the following account, viz. that at Isle aux Noix there are three 
thousand troops encamped, and forty pieces of cannon mounted ou 
their lines ; at St. John's three thousand men, one hundred and fifty 
batteaux, and he was told that two hundred were at Chambl^e ; that 
two schooners are completed and manned, one mounting twelve and 
the other fourteen brass six pounders ; small vessels on the stocks to 
carry three guns each, one gondola taken from us and three new ones 
built, these to mount three guns each; a number of flat-bottomed 
boats to carry one gun each, and a floating battery with two masts, 
nearly done, to carry twenty-four eighteen pounders and two mortars. 
He imagines the whole will be completed in a fortnight. I think him 
placed as a spy on tis — have sent him to you to be disposed of as you 
think proper. From the accounts of the two men who have viewed 
Isle aux Noix, the account of the Frenchman must be false, and a 
story formed for him by the English officers." 



88 MEMOIRS BY 

CHAP, four eighteen pounders cacli, with wliicli he determined 
^^ to risk a battle against any force the enemy could pro- 

Oct 9 duce. On this day he formed a line ahreast, in the nar- 
row pass between the south-west end of Valcour island 
and the main, and came to anchor, liis flanks being se- 
cured by the opposite shores. By this disposition he be- 
trayed apprehensions of his inferiority, but at the same 
time manifested iiis desperate purpose, to encounter an 
enemy of whose force he had no correct information, and 
of which he could not in fact obtain any certain know- 
ledge, under the circumstances in which he had placed 
himself, before they were nearly along side of him, and 

May 20. had gained a station precisely between him and his re- 
treat. The following brief description may contribute to 
satisfy the reader's inquiry: Valcour island, about fifty 
miles below Crown point, is the same under which I 
sheltered myself from a heavy gale, and is shaped like a 
trapezium, extending lengthwise about a couple of miles 
north-east and south-west, in the widest part of Lake 
Champlain, but lies so close in with the western shore, 
that in ascending the lake, it may readily be mistaken 
for a projection from the main. Looking towards Ca- 
nada, Arnold had withdrawn himself behind tliis island, 
and so near to the main, that he could not be discovered 
by the enemy, before they had turned the southern point 
of it, and then it was by accident,* or their squadron 
would have left him behind. 

Early on the morning of the 11th of October, Arnold's 
guard boats warned him of the approach of the enemy, 
under a press of sail with a fresh breeze from the north- 
west. He had before shifted his flag from the Royal Sa- 
vage to the Congress galley, and immediately ordered 
those A essels and the other gallies under way, and stood 
out to meet the enemy ; but on discovering their force, 
he made signal to regain the line, which he had left at 
anchor, and in beating up, the schooner being partially 

* See Annual Register 1T77, p- 4. 



GENERAL WILKINSON. 89 

engaged, received some damage and was run ashoi'e on chap. 
the island, and afterwards burnt by the enemy, whose "• 
squadroji* consisted of a sliip of eighteen 12 pounders, 
one schooner of fourteen and another of twelve 6 poun- 
ders, a radeau carrying six 24 pounders witli six 12 
pounders, besides two howitzers, a gondola with seven 
9 pounders, twenty gun boats carrying brass field pieces 
from 9 to 24 pounders, and some long boats armed in the 
same manner; the whole manned with 700 prime sea- 
men, and the guns served by men and officers detached 
from the corps of Royal Artillery. I would ask, should 
an officer have been excused for committing himself to 
such a vast superiority? But here, as at Chippewa and 
Bridgewater, and Fort Erie, personal fame, and not the 
public cause, was contended for, and, to use a vulgar but 
appropriate phrase, a butcher*s bill was to varnish militanj 
follies, and justify the wanton waste of human life. 

On discovering Arnold's line, the enemy, who was 
running up the lake mid-channel, hauled his wind, and 
by beating up and occasionally rowing to windward, he 
was enabled about half after twelve, to form a line pa- 
rallel to Arnold, at about 350 yards, with the schooner 
Carleton and the gun boats; and some distance in tlie rear 
of those, the ship and other heavy vessels came to anchor, 
the wind preventing tlieir nearer approach. The action 
then commenced, and was supported until night, with 
great spirit and considerable loss on both sides. We had 
sixty men killed and wounded in this affair ; the loss of 
the enfmy has not been ascertained, but he suffered 
considerably, as his front vessels fell to leeward to 
repair, and at the close of day, not one of them was 
within six hundred yards of us.f At night fall the wind, 

• See Annual Register 1777, p. 3. 

f During the action the enemy landed large bodies of Indians on 
the island and the main, w ho fired on our vessels without eftect : he 
also embarked 1000 men on board of batteaux, to be ready to cut us 
up, should we be driven on shore. The gondola Philadelphia was 
sunk; the Congress galley was hulled twelve times, receiving seven 
shot between win^J and water, and the Washington did not fare bet- 
VOL. I. M 



f0 MEMOIRS BY 

CHAP, which had been high throughout the day, subsided int> 
^^' a gentle breeze, still from the north-west. General Ar- 
nold convened his captains on board the Congress, and 
after a consultation it was determined to attempt a re- 
treat. Sonje of the council were for hauling round the 
island, through the narrow pass, but Arn(dd decided on 
attempting a passage directly through tiie enemy's line, 
as the only practicable means of escape, which was con- 
ducted in the following manner. 

The Trumbull galley commanded by a Colonel Wig- 
glesworth of tlic Massachusetts militia, led the retreat 
with barely sail enough set to give her steerage way, and 
a lanthoru under her stern, so masked as not to be seen 
except by those directly in her wake, and the rest of the 
squadron followed in successio)!, equipped in the same 
manner with lanthoins, at intei vals of two or three hun- 
dred yards; General Waterbury of Connecticut, and Ge.- 
neral Arnold, in the Congress and Washington gallies,, 
bringing up the rear. The night was profoundly dark, 
and the atmosphere was charged with a heavy fog; strict 
silence and stillness was enjoined, and we passed the ene- 
my's line, without seeing one of his vessels or being our- 
selves perceived. About eight o'clock the next morning 
the fog was dissipated, and we were discovered about 
twelve or fifteen miles ahead of the enemy, who were 
preparing to follow us. It was now a dead calm, and a 
signal was made to the Trumbull and all the smaller ves- 
sels, to ply their oars, and make the best of their way to 
Crown point ; but before noon the v\ind sprung up ahead 
from the south-west, and bfevv a light gale until midnight. 
Arnold attempted to beat up, but finding he could make 
Ao hand of it, came to anchor. The Trumbull galley 
and the greatest number of the small craft, bad inclined 
to the western coast, and were five or six miles ahead, 

ter. They were wounded in their masts and yards ; for want of ex- 
pert gunners, General Arnold, in person, directed the greater part of 
his shot. It was a desperate conflict on our part, and the wind and 
our proximity to the shore) saved us from capture or destruction. 



If. 



GENERAL WlLJvINSON. U 

\^hcn the breeze commenced, but several of the largest chap. 
of the gun boats were struck by it, and driven into tlie 
lake, and two or three were forced on the eastern >shore, 
where they were abandoned and destroyed ; tlie galley 
and four of the squadron continued their course up the 
lake. 

At sun-rise the next morning the fog was so thick, that 
a vessel could not be discerned a cable's lengtli j but be- 
tween eight and nine o'clock it cleared off, and the ene- 
my's squadron was discovered getting under way, with 
a fresh breeze from the north-west, which brought up 
their leading vessels within five miles of us, before we 
felt its influence, and before eleven o'clock the ship and 
schooners were within range of our stern chases, tw'o 
long 18 pounders, which were opened upon them, and 
kept up a constant fire. General Waterbury, in the 
Washington galley, had been ordered to keep abreast 
of the Congress, and to co-operate with his battery, 
which was of equal weight; but he suffered a sciioonei' 
to run under his stern, and struck to her without firing a 
gun. By this dastardly act, Arnold was exposed to the 
broadsides of the schooner, the battery of tiie captured 
galley, and the bow chases of the ship and other schooner^ 
aud thus beset by dreadful odds, he passed the narrows 
at Split Rock, continuing the action until he found hji's 
vessel made water fast, that others were almost sinking, 
and that no chance for escape remained, he then ran his 
own galley and four gun boats ashore in a cove,* on the 
eastern coast of the lake, and set them on fire, but order- 
ed the colours not to be struck ; and as they grounded, 
the marines were directed to jump overboard, with their 
arms and accoutrements, to ascend a bank about twenty- 
five feet elevation, and form a line for the defence 
of their vessels and flags against the enemy, Arnold 
being the last man who debarked. The enemy did not 
venture into the cove, but kept up a distant cannonade^ 
until our vessels were burnt to the water's edge, after 

" -Relieved to be Butter bay, a fe\^ miles rrboye Oiler CTetk. 



MEMOIRS BY 



CHAP, 
li. 



Reflec- 
tions on 
General 
Arnold's 
conduct. 



which Arnold commenced his march for Crown point, 
about fifteen miles distant, by a briille way through an 
unsettled wilderness, crossed the lalce at that place, and 
proceeded to Ticonderoga, where he had b: en preceded 
by Coh)nel \\iggles worth in the Trumbull, with two 
schooners, tlie sloop, and one gondola, being all of our 
sqna(h"on which escaped. 

When the action commenced on the 11th, Arnold's 
galley mustered seventy-three hands including himself, 
of whom twenty-seven were killed or wounded, and of 
the last, three only survived, and these with the loss of 
limbs. 

I am indebted for these details to my valued fi'iend and 
companion in arms, the late Brigadier-general Gushing, 
who served as a sergeant of marines on board Arnold's 
galley, under his brother Captain Natlianiel Cushing of 
the Massachusetts line, who died on his fai-m at Bellpre, 
in 1814 J to General Arnold's official letters, and to th& 
British Annual Register. Thus terminated General 
Arnold's naval adventure, which like his march across 
the wilderness, eventuated in heavy expenses, and the 
loss of many valuable lives, without a solitary ray of 
solid advantage to the public service. 

I have found it impossible to account for the posi- 
tion General Arnold took behind Valcour island, unless 
with intention to escape the enemj^'s observation, and 
then at every hazard to fall on his rear, and destroy 
his batteaux ; but this suggestion is silenced by the cir- 
cumstance of his going out to meet the adverse squadron. 
If he had kept the open lake, he could by a chain of sig- 
nal boats have been advised of the enemy's movements 
and force, so soon as they came out of Sorel river, and 
then if he had been in sufficient force, he might have 
beaten them back, or if too weak, he could have made 
good his retreat to Ticonderoga, at his discretion; in- 
stead of whicli he abandoned the main waters of the lake, 
cooped himself up between an island and the main, gave 
the enemy a free passage, and by bis voluntary position 
cut himself off from succour and retreat. Yet, notwith- 



GENERAL WILKINSON. 03 

standin.i? this excess of rashness and folly, in which vie- CHAP, 
tnry was impossible, and no end could be produced by ^' 
defeat, but to exalt his character for animal conrage, on 
the blond of men equally brave, which he was bound to 
spare, by the strongest obligations of duty and humanity; 
the zeal and industry of his partisans and the erroneous 
policy of the government, procured for him all the credit 
which could have been attached to a splendid victory ; — 
his conduct was applauded and iiis bravery extolled, and 
the flagrant evidences of his indiscretion, and incompe- 
tency to command, were converted into additional claims 
on the public confidence. 

It must be admitted, that on defensive principles, Ge- 
neral Arnold's order of battle was judif ious, because it 
secured his flanks, condensed his force, and concentrated 
his fire ; but as he nririier defended a pass, nor covered 
a position, nor was able to cope with the enemy, the dis- 
jwsition he made was absurd and desperate. It may be 
worthy remark, tliat this battle was fouglit within seven 
miles of the memorable scene of Commodore Macdo- 
nough's triumph, and that the same principle of formation 
prevailed in both instances, though the results were so 
widely different. 

Having demolished our flotilla, Sir Guy Carleton land- General 
ed at Crown point, where he a\\aited the arrival of his •"'^'■'^^o" 

• arrives at 

army, the rear of which got up a few days after, being Crowa 
retarded by adverse winds, which commenced on tlie i'"'"*- 
14th, and continued to blow from the southward for a 
week. The delays incident to such weather, and the 
lateness of the season in that inhospitable clime, dis- 
couraged Sir Guy's designs against Ticonderoga, and he Reconnoi- 
signified his indecision to the minister* the day on which ^"ks'at 
he advanced with a heavy covering party, to reconnoitre i conde- 
our works, which he found numerous, strong, and fully ^°^** 

• Sir Guy Carleton to Lord George Germain : — 

** Maria, of Cro-um point, Oct. 24th, 1776. 
" Tlie season is so far advanced ihu( 1 cannot yet pretend to inform 
ypur lordship, whether any tiling further can be done this season." 



94! MEMOIRS BY 

CHAP, manned. He knew that it was too late to open treliches 
^' before the place, and that to attempt it by assault, in our 
state of preparatitifh, would be to hazard a repulse, or, 
in the most favourable result, to expose his army to dis- 
memberment. To take the place and not to hold it, 
would be to gain no solid advantage, and he well under- 
stood the difficulty and expense, if not impossibility, of 
keeping open the communication with Canada, and sub- 
sisting an army at such a distance from its resourcfes ; he 
therefore, with the circumspection of an able and expe- 
rienced commander, declined the unfruitful perils before 
him, and determined to cherish his force for the succeed- 
andre- ing campaign. With this resolution he commenced his 
tires to retreat, and led back his army to Canada, where he can- 
quarters, toned his troops, and thus closed the campaign of 1776 
Oct. 6. j,^ ^jjg northern department* 



GENERAL WILKINSON. 



CHAPTER III. 



^Comparative view of the operations of Sir Jeffery Amherst CHAP. 
071 Lake Chainplaiiu in 1758, and of Sir Guij Carleton, ^^^,,,„^ 
in 1776. — General GuteSf after the return of Sir Guy 
Carle^ton to Canada^ is ordered to reinforce General Wash- 
ington. — Measures adopted. — Despatches Major Wilkin- 
son from Minissink for orders. — Wilkinson's rencontre 
with Colonel George Gibson, and Joseph JVojtrse, esq. — 
Jlis interviexv with Major-general Lee. — Conversation 
with that officer. — Reflections which sprung out of it. — 
General Lee surprised and taken prisoner by Colonel Ilar- 
court. — Reflections on the event. — General Lee's letter to 
General Gates. — His conduct and motives comjjared.^— 
Wilkinson rejoins General Gates. — The effect of Lee's 
misfortune on him. — Troops march for Bethlehem. — 
Symptoms of caution in a military chief. — Reach Bethle- 
hem, and fall in with General Sullivan. — Letter from 
General Washington to General Gates. — -Arrive at head 
quarters. — Causes of the misfortunes of the grand army. 
•—The spirit of the country invincible. — General Wash- 
ington's situation and the condition of his troops. — fjon- 
duct of the new levies. — Extracts from General Wash- 
ington's correspondence with the President of Congress. 
— Contrast of the British and American armies. — Mea- 
sures to oppose the enemy's passage of the Delaware, 
'—(xeneral Howe's conduct, and General Washington's 
retreat through the Jerseys, examined. — A brief ana- 
lysis of Sir William Howe's operations after crossing 
the Hudson. — Proclamation of the British commissioners 
and its effects. — The praiseworthy resolution of the Con- 
gress and commander in chief. — Deplorable situation of 
General Washington. — His appearance, — Further ex-' 
tracts frQm his correspondence. — Colonel Joseph Reed's 
letter to General Washington.—General Washington's 
letter to Colonels Head and Cadwalader. ^Wilkinson 



g§ MEMOIRS BY 

joins the brigade of St. Clair, and accompanies Ge- 
neral Gates to Philadelphia. — Opinions of General 
Gates. — Gloomy appearance of Philadelphia. — WUkin- 
soii returns and Joins his brigade at M'-Conky's fer- 
ry. — Delivers a letter from General Gates to General 
Washington. — Enterprise against Trenton. — Conduct of 
Captain T'homas Forrest, CajHain William Washington, 
and Lieutenant James Monroe. — Colonel Stark^s con- 
duct. — Successful issue of the enterprise. — Colonel Rahl, 
the Hessian commander, wounded and made prisoner. — 
His death. — Simultaneous attacks proposed ; they fail.-— 
Reflections on the conduct of General Washington, and 
of the enemy. — Gneral Washington re-crosses the Dela- 
ware. — Acquaintance with Lieutenant Monroe. — Effects 
of the enterprise against Trenton. — Operations in the 
Jerseys resumed. — General Washington's position at 
Trenton. — The British army under Lord Cornwallis ad- 
vances, Jan. 2d, 1777. — General Washington turns his 
leftjlank under the cover of the night. — Battle of Prince- 
ton. — Death of General Mercer. — The British army panic 
struck^ retreat to Brunswick, and take up permanent 
quarters. — General Washington, by easy marches, reaches 
Morristown^ where he takes post.— Merits of the Phila- 
delphia frst troop of dragoons. 

WIAP. The determination of Sir Guy Caiieton to return 

with his army to Canada in the month of October, with- 
Conip^iii- '*"t striking a bh)w, when he had approached within fif- 
tive view tepj, miles of US, and after every preparation necessary 
Amherst's to an attack had been made, resembled very much the 
opei-ations conduct of Sir JefTcry Amherst, wiien movin.^ in an op- 
anci Sir' P')site direction. That officer, in the campaign of 1758, 
GuyCi.rle- jjfttr advancins: as far as Cumberland head, completely 

ton's in '^ 

1776. eq Slipped for the attack of Montreal, then in possession of 
the French, in consequence of the lateness of the season, 
abandoned the expedition on tiie 20th of October, return- 
ed to Crown poiot, and led his troops into winter quar- 
ters. Those chiefs were equally distinguished for their 
private virtues and professional knowledge; therefore 



GENERAL AVILKINSON. 97 

they wei* not to be seduced by the allurements of mo- chap. 
mentary vanity or ambition, to overstep the sacred obli- ^''* 
gations of humanity and of duty to their fellow creatures, 
their country and their God, by which every military 
«ommander is bound, to foster the lives of men confided 
to his disposal. Yet those officers were not arraigned for 
tardy movements, nor did they incur the censures of th-e 
government to which they were responsible, notwith- 
standing the severity with which the conduct of unfortu- 
nate generals is scrutinized by the popular branch of that 
government. 

Compare this beneficent and provident conditct with 
that of some of our military officers, and we shall suffi.T 
by the contrast. In the army of the United States, the 
economy of human life, which should constitute a pri- 
mary object, is the last thing considered. The igno- 
rance, improvidence, and presumption of the war de- 
partment during the late war, involved a wild dissipation 
of the public treasure, without effecting a salutary or 
seasonable provision. The introduction of anomaloics 
authorities, and the interference of the secretaries of war 
are found to distract every operation, and subvert order' 
and responsibility. The systematical espionage which 
was worthy the cold, vindictive spirit of a Madison, ope- 
rating as a bounty to dishonour, has infected the corps of 
the army with jealousy, and men of honour who adhere 
to the sword from love of the profession, are alternately 
disgusted and disheartened by the succession of follies 
and innovations. 

So soon as it was ascertained that General Carleton 
had abandoned Crown point. General Gates despatched 
Colonel Wigglcsworth with a flag of truce to the Isle aux 
Noix, and he returned with satisfactory evidence that 
the enemy had gone into winter quarters. Inconsequence 
of tliis information. General Gates dismissed the militia/* 

* Consisting of Wingate's and Lyman's regiments fi'om New Hamp- 
shire, Swift's and Motte's from Connecticut, and Brewer's, Willard'g, 
John Read's, Wlgglesworth's, Wheelock's and Wcrcfdbritlg«*s frjVai 
Massachusetts, under General Bricket. 

for. I. N 



98 MEMOIRS BY 

CHAP, established the garrison of Ticonderoga* under Colonel 
IH. w^rjyj^p^ dctaclied General St. Clair with the first Penn- 
sylvania, and the first and second Jersey regiments, to 
Albany, and put under orders for the same place, Bond's, 
Porter's, Reed's, Bedel's, Stark's, Poor's, Greaton's, 
and Patterson's regiments, M'hich on an average did not 
exceed 300 effectives for duty, such had been the ravages 
of disease. These corps were engaged no longer than 
the end of the year. Scanty magazines of provisions at 
Ticonderoga, a!id the desire to be at hand to succour Ge- 
neral Washington, should it be found necessary, were 
the motives which governed General Gates on this oc- 
casion. 
General Shortly after his arrival at Albany, lie received ordersf 
ordered to ii'om General Schuyler to reinforce General Washington, 

• Composed of Dayton's regiment from New Jersey, engaged until 
March, 1777 — Burrell's from New England, engaged iiniil February 
— Wa^ ne's. Wood's and Irvine's from Pennsylvania, and VVheelock'a 
from New England, engaged until the end of the year. 

•j- <' Saratoga, jVov. 24ith, 1776. 

*' Dear General, 

•'Notwithstanding my orders to the colonels, or commanding offi- 
cers of the several regiments, which passed this, to repair to their re- 
spective states, &c. j'ou will please to order them to join his excellency 
General Washington with all possible despatch, as also the others 
that may arrive in Albany from Ticonderoga, sending recruiting offi- 
cers to the different states they come from. 

" If the express that brought Mr. Harrison's* letter is already re- 
I'urned, you will please to send the inclosed by another. Pray urge 
Colonel Lewis to send up more wagons, and the bedding for the gar- 
rison at Ticonderoga. 

" Stark's and Patterson's leave this to day. Sloops should be pro- 
vided for tliem. 

" I am, dear General, sincerely yours, &c. 

"PH. SCHUYLER. 
*' iTort. General Gates." 

• " ^Yetpark, JV'ou 26th, 1776, 3 o'clock- P. M. 

'•By command of his excellency, I have the honour to transmit 
you the inclosed resolve of Congress, the original of which this mi- 
nute came to hand ; and I am to request you in bis name, to have the 



GENERAL WILKINSON. 99 

vnd accordingly the command of Brigadier-general St. chap. 
Clair, with Greaton's, Bond's, Porter's, and Bedel's re- ^"* 
eiments, were directed to descend the North river to • e 

9 ' reinforce 

New Windsor, on their route to the main army. These General 
last corps were intercepted by General Lee, and ordered ^^^^ '"^* 
to join his division, and those under St. Clair went home, 
their term of service having expired. General Gates ac- 
companied by General Arnold, embarked at Albany, the 
3d of December, and determined to march with Stark's, 
Reed's, Poor's, and Patterson's regiments by Esopus. 
At this place I presented myself to him on the 6th of 
December, in very feeble health. He had at that time 
heard of General Washington's crossing the North river 
and the loss of Fort Washington, but had received no sa- 
tisfactory information of posterior incidents or move- 
purport of it complied with, by sending down with all possible expc'i 
dition, the whole of the troops belonging to the states of Pennsylva- 
nia and Jersey, which are in the northern department, to join the 
army under his immediate command- You will please to order them 
to fall in on the communication leading from New York to Philadel- 
phia, at Biiuiswick_ or between that and Princeton, and to direct theif 
march by a back and secure route, that it may not be liable to be inter- ^ 
rupfed by the enem}'. I have mentioned Brunswick, supposing and 
hoping that we shall be able to make a stand there; however his ex- 
cellency begs you will direct the commanding officers of the troops, 
10 send him frequent expresses, to advise of their approaches, and by 
which means their destination may be explicitly pointed out. At 
present it is conjecture. It must depend on several circumstances. 
1 have not time to add much: therefore shall only inform you, that 
the enemy are in possession of Ilackinsack, and are now pushing their 
way. From report they are on this side the Passaick. Their num- 
ber is not ascertained, but is supppsed considerable ; they were 
marching in four heavy columns yesterday evening. 

" I have the honour to be, with much respect, 
" Sir, your humble servant, 

" ROBERT li. HARRI£ON. ' 

" P. iS. Officers must enquire the situation of our army, and thut of 
the enemy from time to time, and regulate their movements accord- 
'ingly, and in such manner, as not to run the most distant shadow ol 
risk of falling in with the latter. 
•' Major-general Schuyler.'^ 



100 MEMOIRS BY * 

CHAP, merits, though a thousand vague reports were in circu- 
*'^- lation. Thus circumstanced, liis instructions led him to 
Dec 10 ^^^^ ^''® hsLck route from Esopus, by the Delaware and 
the Minissink, and we reached Van Kempt's near the 
AVallpeck, in very intemperate weatlier. In this seques- 
tered valley we were thrown out of the ordinary current 
of intelligence, and cut off from all authentic information 
respecting the adverse arnnes. The winter had set in 
with severity ; our troops were bare of clothing; numbers 
barefoot, and without tents, provisions, or transport of 
any kind. The men and officers sought shelter wherever 
they could find it in that thinly settled tract. We were 
halted on the 11th by a heavy fall of snow, which in- 
creased the General's anxiety for information from Ge- 
neral Washington, and to relieve his solicitude, 1 volun- 
patches Peered my services to find him. The proposition was 
Major adopted, and a letter* prepared, with which 1 was des- 
fm-L^ders'. Patched on the morning of the 12th December. 

* " Van. Kempt'' s, 15 miles from Sussex Cotirt-House, 

" 12th Bee. 1776. 
" Sir, 

" In obedience to General Schuyler's command, I left Alban)^ tbp 
2d instant, with Stark's, Poor's, Reed's, and Pavterson's regiments j 
Greaton's, Bond's and Porter's having sailed from thence the day be- 
fore ; Bedel's remaining to embark the next day, as sloops were not 
then ready to receive them. Upon my arrival at Esopus, I sent Bri- 
gade-major Stoddart to New "Windsor, to order Greaton's, Bond's, 
and Porter's regiments, to join me upon the march by the way of Go- 
shen. I therefore marched from Esopus, and sent my aid-de-camp. 
Major Pierce, to Goshen, to direct the march of those regiments. He 
met me yesterday, and Informed me tliat General Lee had sent an 
order to those regiments, to join him by a prescribed route. I there- 
fore pursued my march by this route, with the four other regiments,' 
and hope to 'rendezvous them all the day after to-morrow at Sussex 
Court-house. 

" I'send the bearer, Brigade-major Wilkinson, for your excellency's 
orders, in respect to the route you would have me take at present ; I 
propose to march by that delivered to Major Wilkinson. 

" I shall strictly observe the directions contained in Mr. Secretary 
Harrison's letter to Major-general Schuyler, 26th ult. a copy of which 
is now before me. There was a deep snow last night at this place : 
It is now mild and promises rain : in that case we shall be able to go 



GENERAL WILKINSON^ KXi 

I crossed the hills to Sussex Court-house, where I re- CHAP; 
cfiived advice that General Washington had passed the '"• 
Delaware several days before, and that the enemy had 
reached Trenton. In consequence of this information 
I employed a guide, and proceeded down the country. 
On the road I casually met an officer of my acquaint- 
ance, who informed me the boats had been removed from 
the ferries, and that I should find some difficulty in 
getting across the Delaware, and that Major-general 
Lee was at Morristown. Finding such obstacles in my 
way to the commander in chief, I determined to seek his 
second, and to ask orders from him for General Gates; 
and although dark, I continued my journey without halt. 
About midnight, passing a house by the way side, I dis- 
covered a glimmering light, and on application to my 
guide was informed it issued from a tavern. I dismount- Wilkin- 
ed, and after a short parley at the door, gained admit- counter 
tance, and found the women on the watch over the em- with Col. 
bers of an expiring fire ; for I perceived the whole coun- GibsTiT 
try to be in terror and alarm. These women knew no- andJospph. 
thing of General Lee; but after some whispering, in- °*""^* 
formed me two strange officers w£re in bed above me, on 
which I desired one of the party to awaken and inform 
them an express desired to speak with them. The maid 
proceeded with a candle to execute my orders, and soon 
after I heard a loud shriek. I instantly mounted the 
stairs, and guided by the light entered the chamber, 
when a momentary scene of some interest took place. 
Two gentlemen were sitting up in the same bed, and the 
maid standing at a distance from them, in an apparent 
agony, with the candle in her hand. The shriek had been 
caused by the conduct of one of the gentlemen whom the 

in boats down the Delaware, which will save much lime and fatigue, 
With every ardent wish for your excellency's prosperity, 
"I am. Sir, 

" Your most obedient humble servant, 
"HORATIO GATES. 

" To fas Excellency General Washington J* 



lOS MEMOIRS BY 

CHAP, girl had awoke; but his wanton levity was in a mo- 
ment changed into painful apprehensions. Awaking out 
of a sound sleep in the dead of nigiit, the unexpected and 
menacing appearance of an officer, with a Canadian 
capot, a scarlet under coat, and a gold laced hat, with a 
pistol in each hand, was sufficient to dissipate all sense of 
an amorous nature, and to excite those frigid sensations* 
which cannot be realised so sensibly as when an unarmed 
man believes himself in the power of an enemy. For a 
mosnent the gentlemen were struck dumb with alarm; 
literally naked and defenceless, and believing me to be a 
British officer, their situation appeared hopeless, and it 
was several seconds before they demanded, « Who are 
you?" The question was returned and repeated several 
times in the same breath, until reflecting on the circum- 
stance of my appearance with arms, I announced myself 
to that interesting companion and meritorious officer, 
Colonel George Gibson, who served through the revolu- 
tionary war, and gave his life to liis country on the 4th 
of November, 1791, and to Joseph Nourse, esq. the pre^ 
sent register of the treasury. Relieved by the disco- 
very, Colonel Gibson seized my band and exclaimed, 
"Colonel Wilkinson, so help me God! I never was so 
happy to make an acquaintance. By G — d! you have al- 
most scared me out of a yearns growth." These gentle- 
^ men had parted with General Lee the evening before, 
and were absent on furlough, and Mr. Nourse being Ge- 
neral Lee*s private secretary, they could of course direct 
me with precision where to find him. Taking leave of 
tliem I pursued my journey, and about 4 o'clock in the 
morning re.iched his quarters, at White's tavern, on 
Basking ridge. 
His inter- I was presented to the General as he lay in bed, and 
view vvuh jjelivered into his hands the letter of General Gates. He 

C.eneral 

Lee. examined the superscription, and observed it was ad- 

dressed to General Washington, and declined opening it, 
lintil I apprised him of the contents and the motives of 
my visit; he then broke the seal and read it, after which 



GENERAL WILKINSON. 100: 

he desired me to take repose. I lay down on my blanket chap. 
before a comfortable fire, amidst the officers of his suite; ""^* ' 
for we were not in those days incumbered with beds or 
bag,fi;ag;e. I arose at the dawn, but could not see the 
General, with whom 1 had been previously acquaint- 
ed, before eight o*clock. After some inquiries respect- ^'s cod- 
ing the conduct of the campaign on the northern fron- with that 
tier, he gave me a brief account of the operations of ^^A^'^^^- 
the grand army, which he condemned in strong terms. 
He observed, "that our siege of Boston had led us 
into great errors ; that the attempt to defend islands 
against a superior land and naval force was madness ; 
that Sir William Howe could have given us check-mate 
at his discretion; and that we owed our salvation to 
his indolence, or disinclination to terminate the war.— 
When I reached the army on York island," said Lee, 
*' all hands were busily employed in collecting materials 
and erecting barracks ; and I found little Mifliin exulting 
in the prospect of fine winter quarters at Kingsbridge. 
I replied to him, Winter quarteis here. Sir! and the Bri- 
tish army still in the field ! Go, set fire to those you have 
built, and get away by the ligljt, or Sir William Howe 
will find quarters for you." 

This advice of Lee was generally understood ; it ob- 
tained for him merited applause, and General Washing- 
ton gave him due credit for it. He had also been op- 
posed to t!ie occupancy of Fort Washington,* and the 
fall of that place enhanced his military reputation, while 
unavoidable misfortunes, and the unfortunate issue of tiie 
campaign, originating in causes beyond the controul of 
the commander in chief, had quickened the discontents 
generated at Cambridge, and raised a party against him 
in Congress j and it was confidently asserted at the time, 

* I afterwards conversed with General Greene, respecting this affair, 
who was chieHy blamed for attempting' to hold the place, and I recol- 
lect well he observed, "I would to God, we had had 10,000 men there." 
He was of opinion the ground was tenable, and that it was lost by the 
insufficiency of our force ; I am inclined to the same opinion, and 4he 
fact may now be ascertained. 



Ip* MEMOIRS BY 

CHAP, but is not worthy of credit, that a motion had been maSe 
in that body, tending to supercede him in the command of 
the army. In this temper of the times, if General Lee had 
anticipated General Washington, in cutting the cordon 
of the enemy between New York and the Delaware, the 
commander in chief would probably have been super- 
ceckd, and the man who lived the darling of his coun- 
try, and died the admiration of tlie world, might have been 
consigned to retirement or oblivion. In this case Lee would 
have succeeded him, whose manifold infirmities would 
have been obscured by that honest but blind enthusiasm of 
the public, which never stoops to compare causes and 
effects, much less to analyse motives and measures. This 
officer's genius, education, military observation, and pe- 
culiar talents for war, qualified him to fill with eclat, the 
most distinguished subordinate stations in command ; but 
Tjis disposition and habits were adverse to the preserva- 
tion of public confidence, or the conciliation of personal 
feuds and discords ; he would therefore soon have been 
displaced ; successor upon successor would have follow- 
ed him, and the calamities of the country would have 
kept pace with its impatience and caprice ; yet, although 
the avowal may be more honest than discreet, I owe it to 
truth to declare, that after the declaration of indepen- 
dence, I could never subscribe to the sentiment, that the 
cause of the country, depended on the life or services of 
any individual: I always considered it impolitic to place 
our dependence on an ordinary casualty, and I rejected 
the humiliating idea, because it concentred in one man, 
the credit which belonged to the whole nation ; not that 
the command could have been placed in safer or better 
hands than those of the immortalized Washington, but 
because other men would have been found, and General 
Greene in particular, to supply his place with effect, and 
more especially, because the severance of the British 
empire had been written in the book of fate, and the des- 
tiny of the North American colonies was protected by 
Him who governs the universe. 



GENERAL WILKINSON. 105 

General Lee wasted the morning in altercation with CHAP, 
certain militia corps who were of his command; particu- 
larly the Connecticut light horse,* several of whom ap- General 
peared in large full-bottomed perukes, and were treated ^^^ cap- 
very irreverently; the call of the adjutant general for coionel 
orders, also occupied some of his time, and we did not Harcourt, 
sit down to breakfast before 10 o'clock. General Lee 
was engaged in answering General Gates's letter, and I 
had risen from the table, and was looking out of an end 
window, down a lane about one hundred yards in length, 
which led to the house from the main road, when I dis- 
covered a party of British dragoons turn a corner of the 
avenue at a full charge. Startled at this unexpected 
spectacle, I exclaimed, " Here, Sir, are the British ca- 
valry." it TFhere?** replied the General, who had signed 
his letter in the instant. «< Around the house;" for they 
had opened files, and encompassed the building. Gene- 
ral Lee appeared alarmed, yet collected, and his second 
observation marked his self-possession : ** Where is the 
guard ? — damn the guard, why don't they fire ?" and after 
a momentary pause, he turned to me and said, *< Do, Sir, 
see what has become of the guard." The women of tlie 
house at this moment entered the room, and proposed to 
him to conceal himself in a bed, which he rejected with 
evident disgust. I caught up my pistols which lay on 
the table, thrust the letter he hjad been writing into my 
pocket, and passed into a room at the opposite end of the 
house, where I had seen the guard in the morning. Here 
I discovered their arms; but the men were absent I 
stepped out of the door, and perceived the dragoons 
chasing them in different directions, and receiving a very- 
uncivil salutation, I returned into the house. 

Too inexperienced immediately to penetrate the mo- 
tives of this enterprize, I considered the rencontre acci- 

• One wanted forage, another his horse shod, another his pay, a 
fourth provisions, &c. — to which the General replied, " Your wants 
are numerous ; but you have not mentioned the last — you want to go 
home, and shall be indulged, for damn you, you do ^lo good here." 

VOL L O 



106 MEMOIRS BY 

CHAP, dental, and from the terrific tales spread over the coun- 
*"• try, of the violence and barbarity of the enemy, I be- 



lieved it to be a wanton murdering party, and determined 
not to die without company. I accordingly sought a po- 
sition wliere I could not be approached by more than one 
person at a time, and with a pistol in each hand I await- 
ed the expected search, resolved to shoot the first and 
the second person who might appear, and then to appeal 
to my sword. I did not remain long in tiiis unpleasant 
situation, but was apprised of the object of the incursion 
by the very audible declaration, <'Ifthe General does not 
surrender in Jive minutes f I will set Jire to the house ,*" 
which after a short pause was repeated with a solemn 
oath; and- within two minutes I heard it proclaimed, 
f* Here is the General, he has surrendered.^' A general 
shout ensued, the trumpet sounded the assembly, and the 
unfortunate Lee mounted on my horse, whicli stood ready 
^i the door, was hurried off in triumpli, bareheaded, in 
his slippers and blanket coat, his collar open, and his 
gliirt very much soiled from several days use. 
Reflec- What a lesson of caution is to be derived from this 

*Ue event, event, and how important the admonition furnished by it. 
What an evidence of the caprice of fortune, of the fallibi- 
lity of ambitious projects, and the inscrutable ways of 
Heaven. The capture of General Lee was felt as a 
public calamity ; it cast a gloom over the country, and 
excited general sorrow. This sympathy was honourable 
to the people, and due to tlie stranger who had embark- 
ed his fortune with their^, and determined to share their 
fate, under circumstances of more than common peril. 
Although this misfortune deprived the country of its 
most experienced chief, I have ever considered the de- 
privation a public blessing, ministered by the hand of 
Providence ; for if General Lee had not abandoned cau- 
tion for convenience, and taken quarters two miles from 
his army, on his exposed flank, he would have been safe; 
if a domestic traitor who passed his quarters the same 
morning on private business, had not casually fallen in 
with Colonel Harcourt, on a reconnoitring party, the 



GENT:RAL WILKINSON. 



107 



generars quarters would not have been discovered; if chap. 
my visit, and the controversy with the Connecticut light "' 
horse, had not spun out the morning unseasonably, the 
General would have been at his camp,* if Colonel Har- 
coiirt had arrived an hour sooner, he would have found 
the guard under arms, and would have been repulsed, or 
resisted until succour could have arrived; if he had ar- 
rived half an hour later, the General would have been 
with his corps; if the guard had paid ordinary attention 
to their duty and had not abandoned their arms,* the 
General's quarters would have been defended ; or if he 
had obeyed the peremptory and reiterated orders of Ge- 
neral Washington, he would have been beyond the reach 
of the enemy. — And shall we impute to blind chance, 
such a chain of rare incidents? I conscientiously reply 
in tlie negative; because the combination was too intri- 
cate and perplexed for accidental causes, or the agency 
of man : it must have been designed. 

General Lee merited severe punishment for his neglect 
of duty and disobedience of orders, and he received it 
from an unexpected hand. His offence was well under- 
stood by the army, and his misfortune was unpitied by 
those who reflected on the cause of it. It is a fact, he 
had very strong reasons for his neglect of General Wash- 
ington's reiterated commands; but altliough they were not 
such as to justify the violation of a fundamental military 
principle, yet I verily believe his motives were patriotic, 
though intimately connected with a sinister ambition; for 
I am persuaded that in the moment of his capture, he me- 
ditated a stroke against the enemy, which, in its conse- 
quences, would have depressed General AVashington, ele- 
vated himself, and immediately served the cause of the 
United States. This opinion is supported by the follow- 
ing letter to General Gates, 

* The morning being cold and the sun bright, they had left their 
station, crossed the main road, and were sunning themselves on the 
south side of a house about 200 yards from the tavern, which enabled 
Harcourt to cut them ofF from their awns. 



lOS 



MEMOraS BY 



CHAP. 
11[. 

General 
Lee's 
letter to 
General 
Gates. 



« Basking Ridge f Dec. 13f/i, 1776. 
" My dear Gates, 

*« The ingenious mancEuvre of Fort Washington has 
unhinged the goodly fabric we had been building. There 
never was so damned a stroke. Entre nous, a certain 
great man is most damnably deficient. He has thrown 
me into a situation, where I have my choice of difficul- 
ties : if I stay in this province, I risk myself and army; 
and if I do not stay, the province is lost for ever. I have 
neither guides, cavalry, medicines, money, shoes or 
stockings. I must act with the greatest circumspection. 
Tories are in my fi*ont, rear, and on my flanks; the mass 
of the people is strangely contaminated; in short, nnless 
something, which I do not expect, turns up we are lost; 
our counsels have been weak to the last degree. As to 
what relates to yourself, if you think you can be in time 
to aid the General, I would have you by all means go ; 
you will at least save your army. It is said that the 
vvliigs are determined to set fire to Philadelphia; if they 
strike this decisive stroke, the day will be our own; but 
unless it is done, all chance of liberty in any part of the 
globe is for ever vanished. Adieu my dear friend ! God 
bless you ! 

« CHARLES LEE." 



His con- 
duct and 
motive* 
consider- 
ed and 
compared 



Education and experience instructed General Lee that 
Sir AVilliam Howe, by pushing his front towards Phila- 
delphia, must weaken his communication with his maga- 
zines at Brunswick, and expose his cordon of posts to be 
cut; and be knew that the dissolution of a link in the chain 
would compel Sir William Howe to fall back and aban- 
don a great portion of the conquests of the campaign ; he 
knew also, that the shew of military force in the Jerseys 
was necessary to hold the enemy in check, and keep 
alive the spirit of resistance in that state ; and that to 
hang on the flanks and rear of a victorious army, is the 
most effectual plan to impede its progress. Under these 
impressions, it would seem that General Lee had made 



GENERAL WILKINSON. 109 

the determination to violate his orders, to trust to his chap. 
fortune, and to hazard his fame on the issue of some bold '''• 
enterprize ; for we find him whiling away his time be- 
tween the Hudson and the Delaware, by indolent marches 
and unnecessary halts, keeping always the route to Ge- 
neral Washington's head quarters, but at the same time, 
watching the movements of Sir William Howe, and wait- 
ing the period of his going into winter quarters: I have 
strong cause for belief, that the decisive moment had ar- 
rived, and that if Lee had not been made prisoner, he 
would have attacked the British post at Princeton the 
next morning, where the superiority of his force would 
have insured him success. 

The author of these memoirs is aware that at this 
distance of time, the novelty of this exposition may ex- 
cite surprise, and that to give it effect, it must be sup- 
ported by facts and circumstance, at once strong and 
clear. He is sensible of the difficulty to convince men 
against their wills, and of the general propensity to ca- 
vil; but being himself unbiassed by any motives other 
than the developement of truth, and having never doubt- 
ed the soundness of his deductions, he will lay open the 
sources from whence they have been derived, to the con- 
sideration of the intelligent and tlie candid by whom 
alone he will submit to be judged. 

General Lee had halted his division several days at 
Morristown, and marched thence, on the twelfth De- 
cember, to Veal town, barely eight miles, a conclusive 
proof in itself, was other testimony wanting, of his de- 
termination not to cross the Delaware ; but when Colo- 
nel Scammel, the adjutant generaK called on him from 
General Sullivan, who was encamped with the troops, 
for orders of march on the morning of his capture, after 
musing a minute or two, he asked the Colonel if he had 
with him the manuscript map of the counti-y, which was 
produced and spread on a table j it attracted my atten- 
tion, and I observed General Lee trace with his finger, 
the route from Veal town to Pluckamin, thence to So- 
merset court-house, and on by Rocky hill to Prrncetcui; 



110 MEMOIRS BY 

CHAP, he then returned to Pluckamin, and traced the route in 
'^' the same manner, by Bound brook to Brunswick, and 
after a close inspection carelessly said to Scammel, "Tell 
General Sullivan to move down towards Pluckamin, 
that 1 will soon be with him." This was off his route to 
Alexandria on the Delaware, where he had been ordered 
to cross, and directly on that towards Brunswick and 
Princeton. The better to illustrate this last route, I 
beg leave to quote the following distances, viz. from Veal 
town to Pluckamin 6 miles, from Pluckamin to So- 
merset court-house 8 miles, from this place to Rocky 
hill 11 miles, and thence to Princeton 2|, in the 'vhole 
£r|, or at most 28 miles, a distance perfectly in his reach 
witli fresli troops by the next morning. Combine these 
circumstances with his letter to General Gates, which I 
bore off unfolded, and we have a strong manifestation of 
his views and designs: the extraordinary tenor of that 
letter made impressions not to be effaced, and I have 
often wondered why it has been so long withheld from 
the world ; for although it would have convicted General 
Lee of discontent, insubordination and disrespect to Ge- 
neral Washington, it would have saved his character 
from the suspicion of defection to the cause he had es- 
poused. The motive for the suppression will now be dis- 
cerned, and justice will be rendered to the memory of an 
unfortunate man, who, however irregular his personal 
ambition, served this country with fidelity and effect. 

But whether moved by personal ambition, by hostility to 
his chief, or by a spirit of patriotism, or whether govern- 
ed by the combination of these motives. General Lee had 
reduced himself to the dilemma, of abiding the sentence 
of a general court martial, for disobedience of peremp- 
tory orders, or of exciting by some " coup,'' at once 
brilliant and solid, a blaze of popular applause, which 
might not only justify his offence, but give him the chief 
command. In such a case no man of pride and resolu- 
tion could hesitate for the alternative; and it is on these 
facts and deductions I rest my hypothesis. It is for the 
^^orld to examine, and weigh, and determine, the merits 



GENERAL WILKINSON. Hi 

of my conclusions; and whether the award be favourable chap. 
or otherwise, they can produce no harm to my contempo- *^*- 
raries or posterity, but may furnish a useful lesson to 
military men, WHO, IN ALL SITUATIONS, ARE 
MOST SAFE WHEN THEY BEST PERFORM 
JIIEIR DUTY. 

,; So soon as Lieutenant-colonel Harcourt retreated with 
his prize, I repaired to the stable, mounted the first horse 
I could find, and rode full speed to General Sullivan, 
whom I found under march towards Pluckamin. I had not 
examined General Lee's letter, but believing a knowledge 
of the contents might be useful to General Sullivan, who 
s^icceeded him in command, I handed it to him, who after 
the perusal, returned it with his thanks, and advised me 
to rejoin General Gates without delay, which I did the Wilkinson 

rejoins 

next mornnig at Sussex court-house, whither he had led General 
the troops from Van Kempt's. Gates. 

Lee's misfortune aflHicted Gates profoundly : they had 
been long acquainted, had served together in the Britisli 
army, and were personally attached ; their politics and 
political connexions were in unison, and their sympathies 
and antipathies ran in the same current; yet long after 
and in misfortune they became estranged.* 

The troops were soon put in motion, Brigadier-gene- '^'■'^''Ps 
ral Arnold leading the column by the direct road to Eas- Betiile- 
ton ; General Gates with his suite and a light guard, ^^*^'^ 
proceeded on a devious route, and by a rapid march, 
reached the Delaware, some distance above Easton, at 
one Levy's, about eight o'clock, where we halted for the 
night, the General observing that the Jews were whigs, 
but in consequence of certain inquiries made by Levy, 
which tlie General considered a little mysterious, he de- 

• General Lee, in answer to his old aid-de-camp, Edwards, on this 
subject, observed, " The lady who is a closer calculator than her hus- 
band, believed it would be more profitable to worship the rising sun, 
than stick to a fallen friend ; she therefore deternained to pay her 
court by turning me out of doors. I do not blame Gates, because he 
has fallen under a most damnable gynxcocracy, and cannot help him 
self." I read the letter, and qiiote from memory. 



lis 



MEMOIRS BY 



CHAP. 
Ill 



sired the party to conceal his name, and rank, as lie did 
that of Colonel John Trumbull,* the deputy adjutant- 
general. The General called himself Captain Smith, of 
Berkley, Virginia; and on Levy's observing, he thought 
he had seen the Colonel in Connecticut, the General an- 
swered « No ! he is a neighbour's son in Berkley ;" but 
this observation so sensibly alarmed him, that, although 
the night was very inclement, he ordered the horses to 
be^ saddled, and we made a perilous passage of the river> 
through floating ice, and marched until midnight, before 
we lay down, in a dirty stove room which almost suffo- 
cated me. The next morning we breakfasted at Naza- 
reth, and i*cached Bethleliem in the afternoon, where wc 
found General Arnold and our own corps, and also that 
Geneiici of General Sullivan, who had changed his route the mo- 
SuUiran, nient he found himself in command, and pressed forward 
to Join the commander in cliief, 

Tlie following letter from General Washington to Ge- 
neral Gates, received at Bethlehem, will expose his for- 
lorn condition, his apprehensions, his reliance on Heaven, 
his unimpaired fortitude, and the grounds of his hopes. 



Dec. IS. 
Keacb 
Bethle- 
hern, and 



Letter 

from 

General 

Washhig- 

ton to 

General 

Gates. 



«//ead quarters, Dec. litk, 1776. 
« Dear Sir, 

«' Before this comes to hand, you will have heard of 
the melancholy situation of our affairs. I do not mean 
at this time to detail our misfortunes. — ^With a handful of 
men compared to the enemy's force, we have pushed 
through the Jerseys, without being able to make the 
smallest opposition, and to pass the Delaware. General 
Howe is now on the other side, and beyond all question 
means, if possible, to possess himself of Philadelphia; his 
troops are extended from Penny town to Buriington, and 
the main body, from the best advices at the former, are 
within the neighbourhood of Trenton. I wish it were in 
my power to tell you that appearances were against his 



• A meritorious officer, son of the sage and patriot. Governor 
'Trumbull, and since one of the distinguished artists of our country. 



GENERAL WILKINSON. 113 

success ; at present I confess they are not. But few of CH.VP. 
t4ie militia of this state have yet come out, except those *'^- 
belonging to the city, nor have I any great hope of their 
assistance, unless we can collect a respectable force ; in 
such case, perhaps, they may turn out and afford their 
aid. I have heard you are coming on with sc^ven regi- 
ments ; tliis may have a happy effect; and let me intreat 
you not to delay a moment in hastening to Pitts town. 
You will advise me of your approaches, and of the timo 
you expect to be there, that I may meet you with an ex- 
press, and inform you of your destination, and such fur- 
ther movements as may be necessary. I expect General 
Lee will be there this evening or to- morrow, who will be 
followed by General Heath and his division. If we can 
draw our forces together, I trust under the smiles of Fro- 
vulence, we may yet effect an important stroke, or at 
least prevent General Howe from executing his plan. 
Philadelphia is now the object of our immediate care ; 
you know the importance of it, and the fatal consequences 
that must attend its loss. 1 am persuaded no aid with 
you to give, will be delayed a single instant. Your ar- 
rival may prove a most happy ciirumstance. 

*' The Congress have adjourned to Baltimore, but pre- 
viously resolved that Philadelphia should be defended to 
the last extremity. Lord Sterling is going to meet Ge- 
neral Lee, and concert with him a j)lan of operations. I 
wish you to be there, and would advise you not to wait 
the slow march of your troops. I have wrote to General 
Arnold, to go to the eastward, on account of the intelli- 
gence from that quarter; his presence there will be of 
infinite service. 

*( I am, dear Sir, 

** With great esteem, 

« Your most obed't serv't, 
« GO : WASHINGTON. 
«* Major-general Gates." 

The troops marched the next morning; the general Dec. 16, 
officers followed in a day or two, and joined General 

VOL. I. P 



11^ MEMOIRS BY 

CHAP. Washington in the neighbourhood of CoryeH's lerry. 
The affiiirs of the United States were reduced at that 

Dec. 20. awful period to the lowest ebb, and, although foreign to 
the design of these memoirs, a summary view of our si- 
tuation on the western bank of the Delaware, and the cir- 
cumstances which led to it, may not be unacceptable to 
the reader. 

The irregular composition of the army of General 
Washington in the campaign of 1776, the inexperience 
of his officei's and men in the essentials of military ser- 
vice, the defect of knowledge for t!»e conduct of the se- 
veral great departments, on which military operations 
chiefly depend, the total destitution of discipline, subor- 
dination, and police, the quality and condition of his 
arms, and the great defect of the munitions of war, baf- 
fled solid calculations, and forbade his reliance on the 
execution of specific enterprizcs. Yet, notwithstanding 
the campaign opened with the unfortunate combat of 
Long island ; notwithstanding the inauspicious events 
which ensued that battle, until our army arrived at White 
plains; the stand made in the vicinity of tliat place; Ge- 

Nov. 5. iieral Howe's refusal of a general action,* which was of- 
fered him on that ground, and his retreat to York island, 
liad retrieved character, renovated confidence, and in a 
great measure wiped off tlie effects of precedent disas- 
ters, at a period of the season, when, in former wars, it 
Iiad been customary for the combatants to seek winter 
quarters. But our difliculties were about to commence, 
and may be traced, distinctly and unequivocally, to the 
insufficiency of our continental force, and the short term 
of our inlistments. These were the main sources of those 

* losses and misfortunes, which pursued General Wash- 

* See Majop-general Heath's Memoirs, p. 81 — 83. Tlus officer 
commanded a division on the left of General Washington's line, and 
did not change his position. See also Ramsay, voU i. p. 395. See 
likewise the letters of Colonel R. H. Harrison, secretary of General 
Washington, written to Congress by his order from the 25th of Oc- 
tober to the 3d November inclusive, and the General's letter of the 
6lh November, after Sir WiUi»m Howe fell back on Kingsbridge, 



GENERAL WILKINSON. 115 

iHgton in the campaign of 1776; and but for liis firmness, chap, 
the perseverance of the Congress, the resolution of a 
Iian(lf(jl of brave men who kept tlie field, and the supine- 
iiess of the British commander, in not pressing his ad- 
vantages, the horrible scenes of the United Provinces of 
the Netherlands, during the reign of the barbarian bigot 
Pliilip II. might have been acted over again in the United 
States of America. The spirit of the middle states might 
have been appalled, as was the actual case of New Jersey 
and Pennsylvania, but the indiscriminate rapine and vio- 
lence of the enemy would have re-animated and roused 
the people to vengeance. The southern states, rent by 
civil feuds, bleeding by the hands of brothers,* and over- 
run by the enemy, still cherished the flame of liberty, 
which when silence and darkness proclaimed its extinc- 
tion, burst from its embers with volcanic fury, and 
spread its fire in every direction. Tlie eastern states 
had been tested and found invincible: numbers, habits, 
hardihood, the enthusiasm of religion and of liberty, a 
condensed population, and the strength of their country 
established their security, and will make them formida- 
ble, so long as their civil polity and equality of condition 
arc maintained. 

The loss of Forts Washington and Lee would not State of 
have been felt, nor would Sir William Howe have pene- ^-^^^^ 
trated the Jerseys, if General Washington had command- airay. 
ed an army of twenty, or even ten thousand men, well 
found and engaged for the war; but instead of a perma- 
nent force, his troops, for they deserved not the name of 
an army, were composed of levies for twelve months, 
and militia engaged some for six months, and others for 
a shorter period, who, to use the language of General § 

* Governor Shelby in 1791 refused to serve as second on the expe- 
dition under General Scott against Ouioctanan, assigning for reason, 
that at the affair of King's mountain he fonght the battle, and General 
Campbell ran away with the honour. In this action I think he repre- 
sented to me, that txuo brothers, expert riflemen, were seen to present at 
each other, toflre and fall at the same instant. Their names were given 
to me, but they have escaped my memory. 



IIQ MEMOIRS BY 

CH\P. Washi Milton, in his letter to the President of Conj^ess, 
^"' Ddc. 20th, 1776, *f come in you cannot tell how ^ go ymi 
cannot tell xvhen, and act you cannot tell where; consume 
your provisions, exhaust your stores, and leave you at last 
at a critical moment.^* The eastern militia deserted in 
crowds from the White plains, and were all soon after 
dis'oajided hy the expiration of their engagements, and 
the troops which General Washington had assemhled 
■west of the North river near Fort Lee, to watch General 
Howe's motions after his retrograde march from tlie 
White plains, consisted chiefly of levies from Pennsylva- 
nia, Maryland, and tlie Jerseys, the former engaged to 
the first of January, the two last to the first of Decem- 
Conduct ber. The term of these men's service was about to ex- 
1 • 3 l''^'6» ^"^ t''^y were gencrall}^ afllicted by the prevalent 
diseases of camps. Under these circumstances the loss 
of Fort Washington, the sudden irruption of the enemy 
into the Jerseys, and the capture of Fort Lee with aeon™ 
siderable quantity of baggage, stores and provisions, dis- 
couraged and disheartened tliem so much, that their im- 
patience to return home predominated over all other con- 
siderations. At Brunswick, they almost to a man left 
General Washington, when the enemy were actually in 
sight, and to excuse their defection at such a critical mo- 
ment, they spread every where exaggerated accounts of 
the enemy's force and energy, and our own truly deplo- 
rable condition, which paralysed the great mass of the 
community, and defeated the exertions of the zealous ; 
whilst the continental corps melted away by disease and 
desertion, like snow before the sun, and, indeed, nought 
but the General's unshaken resolution, and the firm sup- 
port of the officers w'ho adhered to him, could have pre- 
vented a total dissolution of what was called the Grand 
Army, now reduced to 3000 men. 

Under tliese circumstances, in his affecting letter to 
tlie President of Congress, of the £Oth of December, the 
General employs strong language to awaken their ap- 
prehensions, and rouse all their energies; he expresses 
his decided opinion, that it was General Howe's inten- 



GENERAL WILKINSON. 117 

tion to possess himself of Philadelphia in the course of CHAr: 
the winter, and adds "in truth I do not see what is to pre- ^"' 
vent him, as ten days more will put an end to the existence 
of our arnnj;** and speaking of the lethargy and back- 
Avardness of the people to turn out in defence of the 
country, he observes, «\Vhen danger is at a distance, 
they will not turn out at all ; when it comes home to 
them, instead of flying to arms, the well-affected are em- 
ployed in securing their families and elfects, whilst the 
disaffected are concerting measures to make their sub- 
mission, and spfead terror and dismay all around, to in- 
duce others to follow the example;" and on the same 
subject he observes, << Instance JSfew Jersey! witness Penn- 
sylvania! — Could any thing but the river Delaware save 
Philadelphia f^' Having determined to take certain mea- 
sui'es to increase his force, he submitted them to Con- 
gress for their adoption or rejection, and adds, " It may 
be thought I am going a good deal out of the line of my duty, 
to adopt these measures, or to advise this freely. A charac- 
ter to lose, an estate to forfeit, the inesiimahle Messing of li- 
berty at stake, and a life devoted, must be my excuse." 

What a wretched spectacle did our troops present in 
retreating through tlie Jerseys ! Withoiit cavalry — but 
pai'tially provided with artillery — deficient in transport 
for the little we had to carry' — without tents, tools, or 
camp equipage — without magazines of any kind — half- 
clotijed — badly armed — debilitated by disease, disheart- 
ened by misfortune, and worn out with fatigues : — Thus 
crippled and disabled. General Washington eould no 
longer make a shew of offence, but turned all his atten- 
tion to the prevention of Sir William Howe's passage of 
the Delaware, the only means remaining in his power for 
the protection of Philadelphia, which the Congress had 
resolved « should be defended to the last extremity.^* He Measures 

1- I 1- . 1 1 1 • r. 'J • o . . ^o Oppose 

accordingly divided his force into parties of observation, the ene- 

and stationary guards, posted along the west bank of the ""^'^ P?^' 

river at the ferries, fords, and crossing places, from the DeU- 

Dunks's ferry below Trenton to Coryell's ferry above, a ^^^'^ 

distance of thirty miles, and at the same time directed 



118 MEMOIRS BY 

CHAP, the river flotilla to form a chain of guard vessels. Thes?; 
^^^^ precautions were the most judicious which could have 
been adopted, to answer the proposed end, yet they would 
have been of little avail, if General Howe, when march- 
in,^ against a city beliind a great river, had not forgot that 
his ponioons might be necessary, or neglected to carry them 
along with his army. 

But although General Washington after the fall of 
Fort Wasliington, made the most of his means, yet his 
destruction would have been inevitable, if Sir William 
Hdwe had followed up his advantages, or had not re- 
strained the ardour of his troops. 

It is impossible I should censure any man wantonly, 
much less a mililary character, and he an enemy. I will 
therefore test the merits of General Howe's conduct by 
facts. 
General With an army of sixfold numerical force, and tenfold 
conduct eflTective strength, well proportioned in the several arms 
and Gene- appropriate to the theatre of the war, composed of disci- 
inrton's^ plined European troops in liealth and vigour, ably com- 
retreat manded, completely found in all things, and elated with 
theJer- success ; Sir William Howe, four days after his capture 
seys exa- Qf port Washington, detached Lord Cornwallis to cross 
the North river between Dobb's ferry and Fort Lee, with 
his elite,* consisting of two battalions of British and three 
of Hessian grenadiers, two of light infantry, the guards, 
the chasseurs, the royal higlilanders, the 33d regiment, 
and a part of the queen's light dragoons, forming a corps 
on the lowest estimate (for troops in their first cam- 
paign who had not suffered severely,) of at least 8,000 
men. A landing was accordingly made on the morning 
of the 20th November,! and soon after ascending the 
lieiglit, the enemy found themselves in the presence of 
3,000 militia, who were suffered to escape across the 
Hackinsack river, without being brought to action, and 
his lordship took possession of Fort Lee, its artillery and 

* Marshall's Life of Washington, vol. ii. p. 476. 

t iic.Q General Washington's letters, Nov. 19th and 21st. 



GENERAL WILKINSON. 119 

stores. Tliat we were surprised, is admitted on all chap: 
hawds, and that the enemy had us in a cul de sac, from "^• 
which he permitted us to escape, is equally true ', yet Ge- 
neral ^yas!lin.^;ton remained at the vilhtge of Ilackinsack 
within four miles of the enemy, the 21st of November, 
and on the 22d retired to Newark by Aquakenunck 
brid.^c. At this place he reposed until the 28th, on Avhich 
day the approach of the British corps obliged him to 
change position, and as his rear guard left one end of the 
town the British van entered the other. The distance 
from Newark to Brunswick, by Woodbridgc, the route 
in those days, was about twenty-four miles, the country 
champaign, and the road dry ; yet with this overwhelm- 
ing force at his heels. General Washington was allowed 
to retreat in safety, and to reach Brunswick the next 
day without molestation. Nov. 29- 

After two (lays halt at Newark, Lord Cornvvallis on 
the SOth November advanced upon Brunswick, and ar- Dec. 1. 
rived the next evening on the opposite bank of the Rari- 
ton, which is fordabie at low water. A spirited cannon- 
ade ensued across the river, in which our battery was 
served by Captain Alexander Hamilton,* but the effects 
on either side, as is usual in contests between field batte- 
ries only, were inconsiderable. General Washington 
made a shew of resistance, but after night fall decamped, 
and reached Princeton the next morning, where he left 
Lord Sterling with one German and five Virginia regi- 
ments, making in the whole 1,200, as a covering party, 
and with his main body he prosecuted his march without 
delay to Trenton, where he arrived in the evening. He 
lost no time in transporting his scanty stock of baggage 
and stores to the west bank of the river to Philadel- 
phia, and adopted the necessary precautions to remove 
the river craft beyond the reach of the enemj'. He was 
reinforced at this place by about 2,000 volunteer militia, 
chiefly from the city of Philadelphia, with a detachment 
of Proctor's artillery, and six field pieces under Captain 

• Since Major-general. 



120 MEMOIRS BY 

CHAP. Thomas Foi*est. The tardy movement of the enemy be- 
*^*" giiiled him into a suspicion, that they did not intend to 
advance beyond Brunswick, and accordinji^ly he on the 
6th December ordered the militia to reinforce Lord Ster- 
ling at Princeton, and followed them in person the next 
morning. But the British army whose march had been ar- 
rested* at Brunswick, by General Howe, was joined by 
him on the 6tli December, and advancing the next morning 
at 4 o'clock, obliged Lord Sterling to retire from Princeton 
one iioiir before they entered it, at 4 o'clock P. M. Here 
Sir AVilliam halted seventeen hours ; marched in pursuit 
of General Washington at nine the next morning, and 
reached Trenton at 4- o'clock in the afternoon, just as our 
last boat was crossing the river.f 
A brief It is manifest from these facts, that if General Howe 

Gener 1 ^^^^ '^'^'^" disposed to destroy the puny corps under Ge- 
Howe's r.eral Washington, (then styled tlie Grand Army) it was 
aFter^*^'""^ fully in his power, by a single forced march, at any period 
crossing after his troops came up with our rear at Newark, on the 
son " ' ^^^^^ ^^ November, until we had crossed the Delaware. 
But allov^ing the corps of Lord Cornwallis to have been 
8,000, and a garrison of 10,000 men for New York and 
its dependencies, he had still a disposable force of 9000,:j: 
which he could haA^e landed at Elizabeth town point, or 
Amboy, and taken General Washington in rear. The 
loss of our artillery and remaining baggage and stores, 
and the dispersion of our troops, would have been tlie 
consequence in either case. AH obstacles to the posses- 
sion of Philadelphia would then have been removed, the 
loss of which at that period, would have involved the 
country in heavy calamities. But Sir William by uik 
seasonable halts and indolent mai-ches, having permitted 
our tattered band to escape; when he arrived at the De- 
laware, not finding boats ready to transport his army 

• Gordon, vol. ii. p. 127. Letters to a Nobleman on the Conduct 
of the War in the Middle Colonies, printed by J. Wilkie, 1779. Lond. 

f General Washington's Letters, vol. i. p. 315, 316. 

t See Mttjor-general Robinson's evidence before the House of 
Cuinmons. 



GENEFiM^ WILKINSON. i2i 

across, instead of sending for his pontoons, or building CHAP, 
a few flat-bottomed boats, and pursuing his march to Phi- ^"' 
ladelphia, he selected for his advanced posts a body of 
Germans, who had exercised the most wanton cruelties 
and shocking outrages on the inhabitants, indiscriminate- 
ly, regardless of the royal protections they had received, 
and of consequence were hild in universal abhorrence. 
To such men, under the Colonels Count Donop and 
Rahl, strangers to our language, our habits and manners, 
did Sir William Howe commit the most remote, impor- 
tant and critical points of his occupancy ; incautious- 
ly cantoning them in the open, defenceless villages of 
Trenton, Bordentown, Burlington, Mount Holly, and 
the Black Horse; and having made this injudicious dis- 
position to cover his front, he stationed a respectable 
detachment of British troops at Princeton under General 
Leslie, fell back with his main body to Brunswick, and 
contenting himself with the issue of the campaign, retired 
to the city of New York, to indulge his natural indolence, 
and enjoy the delusive pleasures of the long room and 
the faro table, until the frosts of the season should bridge 
the Btlaware for his passage to Philadelphia. The strong 
analogy between this conduct and tliat at Boston, be- 
speaks some natural defect, which must be Sir William's 
best apology. 

About the j)eriod of this irruption of the enemy into Proclama- 
the Jerseys, the commissioners, Lord and Sir William ^""ti^h ^* 
Howe, issued a proclamation of pardon to all offenders, commis- 
civil and military, from the private in the ranks to the *'°"^''** 
chief in command, from the committee man to the mem- 
ber of Congress, who within sixty days should make sub- 
missir)n and take the oath of allegiance to the British 
sovereign; after which, it would appear, Sir William oc- 
cupied himself more in receiving the acknov\ledgments 
of lepenting sinners than pushing his military operations. 

In the Jerseys a general defection took place and in 
Pennsylvania it was considerable, not in numbers, but 
for the rank and fortune of the delinquents. Indeed the 
vol. I. (^ 



m2. MEMOIRS BY 

CHAP. Splendid appearance and triumphant march of the Bri- 
tish battalions in pursuit of our half-naked, sickly* sliat- 
tered force, overspread the country with terror, and pa- 
triots and sages agonized under the apprehension, that 
the moment was at hand, wlien the Congress would be 
compelled to rescind their pretensions and pass under the 
yoke. But it was then remarked, and is an instructive 
fact, well worthy the consideration of every republican 
citizen, that this dereliction of the public cause was, in 
genera!, confined to the most opulent and the most needy 
classes of society, to those who had nothing to defend and 
those who had much to lose; the middling class shewed 
more constancy, more principle, and more resolution. It 
follows tlun, that the safety, the happiness, tlie consti- 
tution of the country depends on mediocrity, and that 
extreme poverty and inordinate riches are alike unfa- 
vourable to free governments. 
Praise- Born with iron nerves, and an unbending dignity of 

worthy port, which distinguished all his actions, and struck the 
resolution * *^ 

of the most presumptuous with awe, General Washington amidst 

Congress, ^jjQgg scenes which " tried men's souls,'' serene, tranquil, 
and com- ^ i ' 

mander and seif-possessed, excited the admiration of his fol- 
m chief. |o^v(.i.gj aji(l exhibited the heroic example of a chief de- 
termined to brave danger and dare death in support of a 
just cause, and the defence of the most precious rights 
£{,nd interests of mankind; whilst the invincible firm- 
ness of Congress, (Uiough torn by division on the great 
question of independence) exhibited to the world the 
rare example of a popular assembly, united in prin- 
ciple, inflexible in purpose, and regardless of conse- 
quences. Not to one man then, but to such a Congress 
and such a ciiief, supported by tlie handful of brave men 
vyho adhered to the cause of their country, are thesei 
United States indebted for the c!)eap purchase of their 
liberty ; and I shall be acquitted of vanity when I ac- 
knowledge the sweet solace I derive fi'om the conscious- 
ness, that I was one of the little band who faced the 
storm, when the summer soldier and the sunshine patriot 
hid their heads. In robbing me of my commissionj Pre- 



OfiNERAL WILKINSON. IgS 

sident Madison could not despoil me of this source of chap. 
consolation, nor was the sacrifice necessary to promote ^"■ 
the interested intrigues of a successor. 

When the divisions of Sullivan and Gates joined Ge- 
neral Washington, he found his numbers increased, yet 
his difficulties were not sensibly diminished, nor were his 
prospects brightened : ten days would disband his corps^ 
and leave him about fourteen hundred men, miserably pro- 
vided in all things. I saw him in that gloomy period, 
dined with him, and attentively marked his aspect; al- 
ways grave and thoughtful, he appeared at that time 
pensive and solemn in the extreme ; but the state of 
his mind may be best ascertained by tlie following ex- 
tracts from his correspondence. On the 24th of Decern* Extracts 
ber he thus addresses the President of Congress : « That ^^hio"-. 
I should dwell on the subject of our distressesf cannot be ton's cor. 
more disagreeable to Congress^ than it is painful to myself, ence°" 
The alarming situation to which our affairs are rediiced, 
impels me to the measure. Inquiry and investigation^ which 
in most cases serve to develope and point out a remedy, in 
ours present more and greater difficulties. Had I entertain* 
ed a doubt of General Howe's intentions to ^Jas-s the Dela- 
tvare on the dissolution of our army and as soon as the ice 
is made, it would now be done away. Jin intercepted let- 
ter from a gentleman of Philadelphia (itvho has joined the 
enemif) to his friend and partner in the city, declares that 
to be their design; that the army would be there in ten or 
twenty days from the ±6th instant, the day of his writing, 
if the ice should be made ; advises him by no means to more 
their stores, that they would be safe." — And in a letter to 
Robert Morris, a man to whom his country owed as 
much in the fiscal department, as it did to General Wash- 
ington in his military capacity, bearing date the 25tli 
December, he thus expresses himself: " Bad as our pros- 
pects are, I should not have the least doubt of success in the 
end, did not the late treachery and defection of those who 
stood foremost in the opposition, while fortune smiled upon 
us, make me fearful that many more wouldfollow their ex- 
ample: who by using their influence with some, and work' 



IS^ MEMOIRS BY 

CHAP, ing upon the fears of others, mmj extend the circle so as Iq 
^"' take in whole towiiSf countieSf nay provinces. Of this we 
>■ have a recent instance in JerMy; and I wish many parts 
of Pennsylvania may not be ready to receive the yoke.''* 

During these scenes of adversity, tlie firm adlierence, 
active exertions and popular influence of General Mifflin, 
Colonel Joseph Reed, and Colonel John Cadwalader of 
Pennsylvania, and General Dickenson of the Jerseys, 
contributed essentially to support t!ie cause of the revo- 
lution. In this crisis of our aifairs Colonel Reed, who, 
with Colonel Cadwalader and a body of Pennsylvania 
militia, was stationed at Bristol, addressed the comman- 
der in chief on the subject of an offensive blow, and ex- 
Colonel pressed himself in the following pathetic terms: **Ifwe 
Joseph could possess ourselves of JVcw Jsrsey, or any considerable 
letter to part thereof, the effect would be greater than if we had not 
General ^^^ j^f^ Jilloiv me to hope yon will consult your own good 
ton. judgment and spirit, and let not the goodness of your heart 

subject you to the influence of the opinions of men, in every 
respect your inferiors, something must be done before the 
sixty days expire which the commissioners have allowed ; 
for, however many affect to despise it, it is evident very se- 
rious attention is paid to it, and I am confident that unless 
some more favourable appearance attends our arms and 
cause before that time, a very great number of militia offi- 
cers will follow the example of Jersey, and take benefit from 
it. Our cause is desperate and hopeless, if we do not strike 
some stroke ; our affairs are hastening apace to ruin, if we 
do not retneve them by some happy event. Delay with us 
is nearly equal to a total defeat. We must not suffer our- 
selves to be lulled into security and inactivity, because the 
enemy does not cross the river. The love of my country, a 
wife and four children, the respect and attachment I have 
to you, the ruin and poverty which must attend me and 
thousands cf others, xvill plead my excuse for so much free- 
dom,'** Wliatever might have been the effect of this let- 
ter on the mind of General Washington, it is a conclu- 

• Qordon. 



GENERAL WILKINSON. |g5 

sive testiroqny of the judgment, zeal and patriotism of chai\ 
Colonel Reed, afterwards governor of Pennsylvania ; '"• 
and the foHowing letter of General Washington to that 
officer and Colonel Cadwalader, evinces a perfect accord 
in opinion with Colonel Reed, and is an irrefragable 
proof of his entire confidence in those gentlemen. 

" Camp above Tnnton Fallsy 
9.3d Dec. 1776. 
« Dear Sir, 

♦« The bearer is sent down to know whether your plan General 
was attempted last night, and if not, to inform you that ^^^^f^^^f^ 
Cliristmas day at night, one hour before day, is the time ter to 
fixed upon for our attempt on Trenton. For Heaven's jjeJ^d^amj 
sake, keep this to yourself, as the discovery of it may Cadwala- 
prove fatal to us — our numbers, sorry am I to say, being 
less than I had any conception of; but necessity, dire 
necessity, will, nay must, justify an attack. Prepare, 
and in concert with Griffin, attack as many of their posts 
as you possibly can with a prospect of success ; the more 
we can attack at tlie same instant the more confusion we 
shall spread, and greater good will result from it. 

« If I had not been fully convinced before of the ene- 
my's designs, I have now ample testimony of their inten- 
tions to attack l^biladelphia, so soon as the ice will afford 
the means of conveyance. 

♦< As the colonels of the continental regiments might 
kick up some dust about command, unless Cadwalader 
is considered by them in the liglit of a brigadier, which 
J Mish him to be, I desired General Gates, who is un- 
well, and applied for leave to go to Philadelphia, to 
endeavour, if his health would permit him, to call and 
stay two or three days at Bristol in his way. 

"I shall not be particular; we could not ripen mat- 
ters for an attack, before the time mentioned in the first 
part of this letter; so much out of sorts, and so much in 
want of every thing are the troops under Sullivan, &c. 
The letter herewith sent, forward on to Philadelphia; I 



126 MEMOIRS BY 

CHAP, could wish it to be in time for the southern post's dejJar- 
'^^ ture, which will be I believe by 11 o'clock to-morrow. 
« I am, dear Sir, 

« Your most obedient servant, 
« GO. WASHINGTON. 

'f T. S. I have ordered our men to be provided with 
three day's provisions ready cooked, with which and 
their blankets they are to march ; for if we are success- 
ful, which Heaven grants and the circumstances favour, 
we may pusli on. I shall direct every ferry and ford to 
be well guarded, and not a soul suffered to pass without 
an officer's going down with the permit. Do the same 
with you. 

*« To Joseph Reed, esq. and in his absence to John Cad- 
walader, esq. only, Bristol." 

Wilkinson When I joined the troops under General Washington, 
st!"ciair's ^ found General St. Clair near head quarters, and re- 
brigade, sumed my station of brigade major in his family, but at 
General Gates's particular request, I obtained permission 
to accompany him to Newtown, Bucks county where he 
took quarters. On the 23d December he informed m© 
he should the next day set out for Baltimore, and press- 
ed me to accompany him as far as Philadelphia. I ac- 
cordingly applied to General St. Clair for leave, who ob- 
served that he should " have no objection, if he did not 
think it interested mtj honour, at that time, to remain with 
the brigade." This was incomprehensible to me, and not 
understanding it, I laid less stress upon it than I ought 
to have done. I however determined to abandon all 
thoughts of the ride to Philadelphia; but when I visited 
Accompa- Newtown the next morning to take leave of Genera! 
rarc^tes Gates, I was prevailed on to change my purpose, and we 
to Phila- set out for the city the same day. On the road the Ge- 
^ ^ '*' neral appeared much depressed in mind, and frequently 
expressed the opinion, that while General Washington 
was watching the enemy above Trenton, they would pri- 



GENERAL WILKINSON. i^J 

vately construct batteaiix, pass the Delaware in his rear, chap. 
and take possession of Philadelpliia before he was aware ^"• 
of the movement ; and that instead of vainly attempting 
to stop Sir "William Howe at the Delaware, General 
Washington ought to retire to the south of the Susque- 
hanna, and there form an army; he said it was his in- 
tention to propose this measure to Congress at Balti- 
more, and urged me to accompany him to that place. 
The proposition, after eighteen month's absence from 
home, was tempting, but my duty forbade the thought. 
It was dark when we entered Front street, and it appear- Gloomy 
ed as if we had penetrated a wilderness of houses ; such ance of 
was the silence and stillness which prevailed, that the Philadel- 
dropping of a stone would have been heard several 
squares, and the hoofs of our horses resounded in all di- 
rections. We alighted at the City tavern (now the Coffee 
house,) where some unpleasant altercation took place be- 
tween the General and several gentlemen who called on 
him, and were connected with certain notables who had 
recently joined the enemy. After they retired, he wrote 
a letter to the commander in chief, with which he charged 
me, and I took leave of liim. I was on horseback early 
the next morning, and reached Newtown about 2 o'clock. 
On my arrival there I discovered, to my surprise, that is the 
General Washington had transferred his quarters to that ^ letter 
pLice, and had himself marched with the troops in that from 
lueighbourhood. From Colonel Harrison, the General's Ga"esto 
secretary, who had been left in charge of his papers, I General 
received the necessary directions, and proceeded in quest j^^f *"^° 
of the troops, whose route was easily traced, as there was 
a little snow on the ground, which was tinged here and 
there with blood from the feet of the men who wore 
hroken shoes. I got up with my brigade near M*Con- 
ky's ferry about dusk, and inquiring for the commander 
in chief, was directed to his quarters, I found him alone 
with his whip in his hand, prepared to mount his horse, 
which I perceived as I entered ; when I presented the 
letter of General Gates to himj before receiving it, he eX" 



128 



MEMOIRS BY 



CHAP. 
II L 



Enter- 
prize 
against 
Trenton. 



claimed \\jth solemnity, « What a time is tliis to hand me 
letters !" I answered that I had been charged with it by 
General Gates. <'By General Gates! where is he?" "I 
left him this morning in Philadelphia." <* What was lie 
doing there ?" " I understood him that he was on his 
way to Congress." He earnestly repeated «« On his way 
to Congress!" tiien broke the seal, and I made my bow 
and joined General St. Clair on tlie bank of the river. 

Boats were in readiness, and the troops began to cross 
about sunset, but the force of the current, the sharpness 
of the frost, the darkness of the night, the ice which 
made during the operation, and a high wind, rendered 
the passage of the river extremely difficulty and but for 
the stentorian lungs and extraordinary exertions of Co- 
lonel Knox,* it could not have been effected in season to 
favour the enterprize ; indeed we were too late to have 
succeeded against an enemy less negligent and less se- 
cure, for it was 4 o'clock before the troops were formed 
sind put in motion, at which time it began to hail and 
snow. 

The disposition of attack was made for two columns; 
the left led by tlie commander in chief, who was accompa- 
nied by Generals Lord Stirling, Greene, Mercer, and Ste- 
vens, to make a circuit by the Pennington roadf (A) and 
assault by King's, now Greene street (B); the right, un- 
der Major-general Sullivan, which included the brigade of 
St. Clair, to keep the river road by General Dickenson's 
house (C) and enter the town by Water street (D). To 
give time for General Washington to effect his " detour," 
that the attack might be simultaneous. General Sullivan 
was ordered to halt for a few minutes at the cross road, 
which leads to Howell's ferry (F), where he arrived 
about twilight. Soon after the lialt, it was discovered 
by Captain John Glover of the Marblehcad regiment. 



* Afterwards Afajor-general Knox, and secretary of war under 
President Washington. 
f See Atlas, No. II. 



GENERAL WILKINSON. 129 

that the best secured arms* of the officers were wet, and chap. 
not ill firing condition. The communication was made ^"' 
to General Sullivan in presence of General St. Clair and 
the officers of their suites. Sullivan cast a look at Sin- 
clair and observed, "What is to be done?" who instant- 
ly replied, « You have nothing for it but to push on and 
charge." We soon marched, Colonel Stark in command 
of the advanced guard, the troops with orders to clear 
their muskets as they moved on in the best manner in 
their power, which occasioned a good deal of squibbing; 
in the mean time an officer was despatched to apprise the 
General of the state of our arms, Avho returned for an- 
swer by his aid-de-camp Colonel Samuel Webb, that we 
must « advance and charge." It was now broad day, 
and the storm beat violently in our faces ; the attack had 
commenced on the left, and was immediately answered 
by Colonel Stark in our front, who forced the enemy*s 
picket, and pressed it into the town, our column being 
close at liis heels. The enemy made a momentary shew 
of resistance by a wild and undirected fire from the win- 
dows of their quarters which they abandoned as we ad- 
vanced/ and made an attempt to form in the main street, 
which might have succeeded but for a six gun battery 
opened by Captain T. Forest,f under the immediate or- 

• The platoon officers carried fusees at that time. 

f Caplaiu Forest commanded our artillery on that memorable oc- 
casion, and followed the advance of the left column : General Wash- 
ington kept near the front. As he approached the village, he in- 
quired of an inhabitant, who was chopping wood by the road side, 
" Which way is the Hessian picket ?" *' I don't know," replied the 
citizen, waiving an answer. " You may speak," said Captain Forest, 
"for that is General Washington." The astonished man raised his 
hands to heaven, and exclaimed " God bless and prosper you. Sir; — 
the picket is in that house, and the sentry stands near that tree." 
Captain Washington immediately received an order to dislodge it, 
which he executed with prompiitude, and the artillery being unlim- ^ 

bered, the column proceeded. When Forest's battery was opened, 
the General kept on the left, and advanced with it, giving objects of 
direction to his fire; his position was an exposed one, and he was fre- 
quently intreated to fall back, of which he took no notice: he had 
VOL. T. R 



130 



JVIEMOIRS BY 



CHAP. 
III. 

Conduct 
of Captain 
Thomas 
Forest, 
Captain 
William 
Washing- 
ton, and 
l/ieute- 
nantJames 
Monroe. 



Colonel 
Stark's 
conduct. 



ders of General Washington, at the head of King's street, 
which annoyed the enemy in various directions ; and the 
decision of Captain William Washington,* who, second- 
ed by Lieutenant James Monroe,f led the advanced guard 
of the left column, perceiving that the enemy were en- 
deavouring to form a battery, rushed forward, drove the 
artillerists from their guns, and took two pieces in the 
act of firing. Tiicse officers were both wounded in 
this charge J the Captain in his wrist, the Lieutenant 
through the fleshy part of his shoulder. These particular 
acts of gaihintry have never been noticed, and yet they 
could not have been too highly appreciated, for if the ene- 
my had got his artillery into operation in a narrow street, 
it might have checked our movement, and given him 
time to form and reflect; and if he had retired across 
tlic bridge in his rear and taken post, he would have 
placed a defile between us, which in our half naked, half 
frozen condition, he ought to have defended against our 
utmost eff\)rts, and we in turn might have been compell- 
ed to retreat, which would have been fatal to us ; but 
while I render justice to the services of Forest, Washing- 
ton and Monroe, I must not withhold due praise from the 
dauntless Stark, who dealt death wherever he found re- 
sistance, and broke down all opposition before him. 

Pressed in front, and hearing our fire approach on their 
left, a troop of dragoons, with about five hundred infan- 
try, took to flight across the Assanpink, and joined Count 
Donop at Bordentown; and Colonel Rahl, while exerting 
himself to form his dismayed and disordered corps, being 
shot from his horse, the main body retired by their right 



turned the guns on the retreating enemy, when to an order for the 
discharge of cannister, Capt.iin Forest observed, *• Sir, they have 
struck." "Struck!" replied the General. " Yes," said Forest, " ^Aejj- 
colours are down." " So tliey are," observed the chief, and galloped 
towards them, followed by Forest and his whole command, who for a 
moment left their guns to see the show. 

* Afterwards greatly distinguished as an officer of c.avalry, and 
since a Brigadier-general. 

f Now secretary of state. 



GENERAL WILKINSON. 131 

up the Assanpink, with the apparent inclination to escape chap. 
to Princeton. General Washington instantly threw the ^" 
brave Colonel Hand with his distinguished rifle corps in 
their way (G); and the Virginia troops under those gal- 
lant officers Colonels Scott and Lawson, with Josiah and 
Richard Parker, having gained their left (H), after some 
fluctuation in their movements, they halted, formed in 
order of battle, with their front to the south (I), and order- 
ed their arms, which after a summons from the General, 
=iind a short pause, they agreed to surrender at discre- 
tion. I had been despatched to General Wasliington for 
orders, and rode up to him at the moment Colonel Rahl, Colonel 
supported by a file of sergeants, was presenting his Hessian^ 
sword. On my approach, the commander in chief took comman- 
me by the hand, and observed, " Major Wilkinson^ this is ^vounded 
a glorious day for our country," his countenance beam- ^"^ '"^^^e 
ing with complacency ; whilst the unfortunate Rahl, who P'^'®°"^''" 
the day before would not have changed fortunes with him, 
now pale, bleeding and covered with blood, in broken ac- 
cents seemed to implore those attentions, which the vic- 
tor was well disposed to bestow on him. How awful the 
contrast j what a sad memento of the casualties of mili- 
tary life. Such are thy blessings, O War! — such the 
glories and the golden fruits « plucked from the cannon's 
mouth." 

In this afiair we lost no officer, and those before men- 
tioned with four men only were wounded, two were kill- 
ed, and one frozen to death; our trophies were four stand 
of colours, twelve drums, six brass field pieces, a thou- 
sand stand of arms and accoutrements, and our prisoners 
twenty-three officers and almost 1,000 non-commissioned 
officers and privates ; Colonel Rahl and six other offi- 
cers, with about 40 men, were killed. The execution of 
this enterprize, reflected high honour on General Wash- 
ington, but his triumph was abridged by the failure of 
two simultaneous attacks; one from Bristol under Gene- 
ral Cadwalader, and the other by Trenton ferry under 
General Irwing, which made a part of his plan. Those 



133 MEMOIRS BY 

CHAP, officers employed every exertion to cross the river, but 
*"■ were baffled by the ice, and in consequence tiie fugitives 
escaped from Trenton, and Count Donop, with the de- 
tachments below, was enabled to make good his retreat 
to Princeton, otherwise these German cantonments would 
have been swept. 

This was a desperate undertaking, justified by the de- 
plorable state of oiu' affairs, and worthy the chief who 
projected it. I have never doubtfed that he had resolved 
to stake his life on the issue. The joy diffused through- 
out the union by the successful attack against Trenton, 
reanimated the timid friends of the revolution, and invi- 
Public gorated the confidence of the resolute. Perils and suf- 
produced firings still in prospect, were considered the price of in- 
by the dependence, and every faithful citizen was willing to make 
of^he^ the sacrifice. Success had triumphed over despondency, 
Hessians. j^„j i\^q heedless, headlong enthusiasm, whicli led the 
colonists to arms, had settled down into a sober sense of 
their condition, and a deliberate resolution to maintain 
the contest at every hazard, and under every privation. 
The general impulse excited by passion was now approv- 
ed by reason, and the American community began to feel 
and act like a nation determined to be free. 
Pennsyl- rp|jg jnilitia of Philadelphia, who shewed a good coun- 

vania mi- '^ 

litia cross tenance in the worst of times, were deeply chagrined be- 

the Dela- q^^^^q tjigy could not co-operate with the continental 
ware. "^ *^ 

troops on the 26th December; but being elated by our 

success, they became impatient for action, and crossed 
Dec. 27. the Delaware near Bristol, to the number of 1,800, under 
Brigadier-general Cadwalader, and took post at Cross- 
wick's j whilst a similar number, drawn by General 
Mifflin from the city and adjacent counties, crossed at 
various places, and rendezvoused at Bordentown about 
t^ons on the same time. At this eventful epoch the masterly judg- 
General ment of General Washington seems to have been beguiled 
ton's se^ by his good fortune, or the panic of the enemy after the 
toiid affair of Trenton; for we find him again preparing* to 

* See his letter to the President of Congress, Dec. 29. 



GENERAL WILKINSON. 133 

cross the Delaware to « pursue the enemy in his retreat; chap. 
try to break up more of their quarters, and in a word, "*• 
in every instance adopt such measures as the exigency cvossinff 
of our affairs require, and our situation will justify." of the De- 
The original dispositions of this distinguished chief were *^*^®' 
certainly infected hy a chivalrous spirit, which however 
corrected by self denial, however qualified by prudence 
and circumspection, displayed itself in this case; else he 
would hardly, without any very material change in their 
physical force, have ventured to advance on the enemy be- 
fore whom he had so recently retreated, and placed a 
large river in his rear, which was daily expected to be 
rendered impassable by the ice. By this step he threw 
himself into a « ad de sac,'^ with a corps numerically in- 
ferior to that of the enemy in his front, and in point of 
equipment and efficiency, with all the disadvantages of 
militia opposed to the veteran troops of Europe in cam- 
paign; yet under the guidance and protection of that 
God in whom he placed his trust, he extricated himself 
from this desperate situation, by converting his fault into 
a ** ruse de guerre,^' which dismayed and disheartened 
the enemy, and suddenly deprived them of all their ac- 
quisitions south of Brunswick. 

Pursuant to his resolution. General Washington on 
Monday morning the 30th of December, 1776, again 
crossed the Delaware, and took post at Trenton; but 
owing to the drifting ice, the passage of the river had 
become extremely difficult and fatiguing, and the rear of 
the troops did not join him before the next evening. In Dec. 31. 
the course of that day. Colonel Joseph Reed, with a re- colonel °^ 
connoitring party of twelve dragoons, was sent out to Joseph 
inquire for the enemy, of whom General Washington had f squ'ad"of 
no certain advice; and being well acquainted with the dragoons 
country, he surprised a commissary and foraging party, phWadel- 
consisting precisely of equal numbers, whom he charged P^ia ist 
and made prisoners without the loss of a man, and after ^°°^' 
a few hour's absence, returned with every trooper his pri- 
soner behind him. This little act of decisive gallantry, 
performed by independent gentlemen, tended to increase 



134 MEMOIRS BY 

CHAP, the confidence of the troops, and certainly reflected high 
^^^^.^^L. honour on the small detachment,* which had been taken 
from the patriotic old first troop of Philadelphia, then com- 
manded by that respectable citizen soldier Captain Sa- 
• muel Morris. From that period the effect of the esprit 
du coiys has been manifest in this troop, and it will never 
lose its meritetl superiority so long as it is composed of 
the flower of the first city of the union, and receives 
the orders of such a manly, honourable, ardent soldier as 
Captain Charles Ross, whose exact discipline, prompti- 
tude and vigilance in the late war, supported the ancient 
repute of tlie troop, and although unnoticed, give him 
and the gentlemen of his command strong claims to public 
distinction. 
General The information received from the prisoners, separate- 
ton's ei^- ^7 examinid, left no doubt of the enemy's superiority, 
barrass. and his intention to advance upon us, which would put 
resolu- General Washington in a critical situation. To make a 
i-ion. safe retreat was impracticable, should the enemy act with 

energy; and if it could be effected at all, it would depre- 
ciate the influence of antecedent successes, and check the 
rising spirit of the community; on the other hand to give 
battle under the circumstances of the manifest inequality 
which existed, would be to hazard the annihilation of the 
Grand Army, an event the most dangerous of all to the 
public cause; in this awful conjuncture the resolution 
adopted was the most acceptable to the feelings of a 
soldier. Brigadier-generals Mifflin and Cadwalader were 
ordered to join the General, and he determined to pro- 
crastinate the combat, until night if practicable, but to 
take post in A, A, A, behind the Assanpink,f a creek 
which divided the small village of Trenton; to wait 
the enemy's advance, and avail himself of circum- 

* This detachment consisted of 2d Lieut. James Budden, Cornet 
.John Dunlap, Thomas Leiper, 1st sergt,, Samuel Howell, jun. 1st cor- 
poral, James Hunter, 2d corporal, George Campbell, John Donnald- 
son, Thomas Peters, William Pollard, Samuel Caldwell, Benjamia 
Randolph, John Lardner. 

T See Atlas. No, 111. 



GENERAL WILKINSON. 135 

stances; that is, to fight and die, if he could not conquer chap. 
or extricate himself with honour. When the resolution "^* 
was taken to order up Mifflin and Cadwalader, a heavy j^^ j 
detachment under Brigadier-general de Roche Fermoy* Position of 
consisting of six pieces of artillery under Captain T. armies, 
Forest, Hand's riflemen, a Virginia corps under Colo- 
nel Charles Scott,f and the German battalion of Haus- 
segger,:j: was ordered forward, and took post at the Five 
Mile run, B, on the old rpad, pushing its picket to the 
village of Maidenhead, C, whilst the main body of the 
enemy were assembled in Princeton, with its advanced 
guard at Cochran's, D, and its patroles in motion as far 
as the Eight Mile run. Such was the position of the two 
armies on the night of the 1st of January, 1777. Great 
exertions had been made the preceding evening to induce 
the continental troops, whose term of service expired at 
12 o'clock, P. M. to remain with the General, and stick 
by the cause of the country ; the men were addressed by and com- 
companies, regiments, brigades and divisions, and finally fo^^jf^^^ 
after all the persuasive arts were exhausted, 1,200, or 
1,400 consented to engage for an additional six weeks on 
the receipt often dollars bounty; this was, of necessity, 
conceded by the General, whose whole force then consist- 
ed of this number of continental troops, engaged for six ' 
weeks, and 3,500 or 600 Pennsylvania volunteer mill- (U^X-*^ ^ 
tia; that of the enemy was estimated at 8,000 comba- (C^^ Vva,*X-/ 
tants, artillery, dragoons, and infantry duly proportion- 
ed: how dreadful the odds, how eventful the succeeding 
day, on which the fate of General AVashington, and his 
army, might have been decided, but for the obstinate re- 
sistance of a handful of brave men, and the workings of 
Heaven in the breast of Lord Cornvvallis. 

• This man, like De Woedtke, turned out a worthless drunkard, 
although he wore the croix de St. Louis, 

f Afterwards Brigadier-general and late governor of Kentucky. 

1- ^Vho did not acquit himself with reputation, and was afterwards 
cashiered. 



138 MEMOIRS BY 

CJIAP. Major Henry Miller* of the rifle corps, had charge of 
i^^__^ tliG guards of oiir advance, on the night of the first, and 
about 12 o'clock, in returning from the rear to the front, 
he met General Fermoy on his way to Trenton; the 
enemy were in motion early on the 2d, and about sunrise 
a mounted yager, belonging to the advanced patrole, in 
pursuit of a citizen of the name of Hunt,! ran in upon our 
picket at Maidenhead, and was shot from his horse. On 
hearing this shot, the advanced party at Five Mile run, 
stood to their arms, but missing the General, some em- 
barrassment ensued, which was soon removed by Major 
Gallantry Miller, and Colonel Hand took the command of the 
Hand ^ ^ troops, and retired leisurely before the enemy, until or- 
and Major ders Were received from the commander in chief, to dis- 
the rifle P"*^ every inch of the ground where practicable; Colonel 
corps. Hand then faced about, and advanced to meet the enemy, 
when a skirmish commenced, that was continued at inter- 

* General Miller, late of Baltimore, who was distinguished for his 
cool bravery wherever he served, and certainly possessed the entire 
confidence of General Washington. 

■j- Extract of a letter from a respectable inhabitant, dated Laivrence- 
vUle, Jiug'ust22d, 1816:— 

" On the 2d of January, 1777, the British army advanced from 
Princeton, preceded by mounted Hessian yagers, who fell in with 
Elias Hunt, about three-fourths of a mile in advance of the American 
picket, who was posted opposite the church in Maidenhead (now 
Lawrence), in his private dwelling house, his family having previous- 
ly deserted it. Hunt was mounted, and pursued by a party of horse 
in full speed till he had passed the guard, one of which was in ad- 
vance of the rest with his sword ready to make the blow, when the 
guard fired and wounded him, but he did not fall from his horse. At 
this time a bugle sounded in the rear, and he attempted to return, 
but a second fire killed the horse and rider : this happened about 
11 o'clock, A. M. Howe's army continued to advance till they came 
to what is called the Five Mile run, where a guard was also stationed, 
and some skirmishingensued with Colonel Hand's riflemen, who then 
retreated, and made a stand on the south side of Shabbakong creek, 
in a wood on both sides of the road, and continued to annoy the Bri- 
tish army, until they arrived within a mile of Trenton. The British 
army did not quarter or encamp wit!i us ; they performed the march 
between sun and sun on the same dav." 



GENERAL WILKINSON. iif 

Yals tliroiighout the day, in which Colonel Hand's rifle- CHAP, 
men and Captain Forest's artillery were particularly "'" 
distinguished. The right hank of the rivulet of Shabba- 
kong was at that period covered with a close wood a mile 
in depth, whilst the opposite side presented open fields; 
Colonel Hand, who brought up the rear with his riflemen, 
determined to v.aste as much time as possible for tlie ene- 
my at this point; he accordingly secreted his men some 
distance within tlie wood, e, e,* on the flanks of the road, 
posting Major Miller on the left, and in person taking 
command- on tlie right: in this position he waited for 
the flank and advanced guards of tlie enemy, until they 
came within point blank shot, and then he opened a 
deadly fire from his ambush, which broke and forced 
them back in great confusion on the main body, close- 
ly pursued by the riflemen. The boldness of this ma- 
noeuvre menacing a general attack, induced the ene- 
my to form in order of battle, d, d, to bring up his 
artillery, and open a battery with which he scoured the 
wood for half an hour before he entered it : this ope- 
ration consumed two hours, during wliich time the rifle 
corps took breath, and were ready to renew the skir- 
mish. The brigade of General St. Clair, with two pieces Position 
of artillery, I think under Captain Sergeant,! were as- claims 
signed to the defence of the fords of the Assanpink, brigade 
b, b, b, b, on the right of our line: the enemy's flankers Trenton. 
reconnoitred those fords, but finding them guarded, join- 
ed their main body: my station gave me a fair view of 
the left flank of the enemy's column, after it had passed 
the wood from Shabbakong, and wheeled to their right 
on the margin of the high ground, E, which leads to 
Trenton. About half a mile advanced from the northern 
extremity of the buildings of this place, on the old road 
to Princeton, there is a ravine, F, which crosses the 
road at right angles, and descends to the plain of As- 
sanpink ; on the south-western verge of this hollow, our 
advanced party made their last stand, in which the Vir- 

* See Atlas, No. IV. 
" t Since governor of the Mississippi territory. 
VOL. I. S 



138 MEMOIRS BY 

CHAP, ginia troops, under Colonels Scott and Lawson and Ma- 

joi's Josiah and Richard Parker, with Forest and his 

field pieces, distinguished themselves. 

Skirmish ryy^iQ hattcrv, covered by about six hundred men, open-' 
near Tren- •' *' * 

ton de- ed on the column of the enemy, and was piesently an- 
Kcnbed. g^ycred by a counter-battery ; the cannonade continued 
twenty or twenty-five minutes, when the British column 
was partially displayed, and advanced in line: the firing 
of the musketry was soon mingled with that of the artil- 
lery, but the enemy preserved his front, and being of 
threefold numbers, continued to advance until he forced 
our corps to retire by the bridge across the Assanpink, 
I had a fair flank view of this little combat from the op- 
posite side of the Assanpink, and recollect perfectly the 
sun had set, and the evening was so far advanced, that 
I could distinguish the flame from the muzzles of our 
muskets. Anterior to this skirmish. General Washing- 
ton, who stood fairly committed to a general action, if 
the enemy had pressed it, feeling how important it was 
to retard the march of the enemy until nightfall, rode 
up to the advanced party with Generals Greene and 
Knox, thanked the detachment, and particularly the ar- 
tillery, for he services of the day, gave orders for as ob- 
stinate r ^tand as could be made on that ground, without 
hazarding the pieces, and retired to marshal his troops 
for action, behind the Assanpink. 
Jan. 2. After forcing our advanced party, the enemy took post 

of the°t\v-o in ouit' front, at about 1000 yards distance, with the inter- 
armies at vention of the village (now city) of Trenton, and the As- 
dusEi 

sanpink creek, which was every where fordable below the 

mill : a cannonade ensued between the two armies with, 
little effect, during which Lord Cornwailis displayed his 
columns, and extended his lines, g, g, g, g, to the west- 
ward, on the heights above the town. If there ever was 
a crisis in the afl'airs of the revolution, this was the mo- 
ment; thirty minutes would have sufficed to bring the 
two armies into contact, and thirty more would have de- 
cided tiic combat ; and, covered with wo, Columbia miglit 
have wept the loss of her beloved chief and most valorous 



GENERAL AVILKINSON, 139 

tfons. In this awful moment, the guardian angel of chap. 
our country admonished Lord Cornvvallis, tlwit his own ^'^' 
troops were fatigued, and that the Americans were with- p,.oposi- 
out retreat; and under this impression, he addressed his tion of 
general officers, *< tJie men had been under arms the whole comwallis 
day; they were languid and required rest; he Iiad the ene- answered 
my safe eiiough, and could dispose of them the next morn- \viUiam 
ing ; for these reasons he proposed that the troops should Erskihe',- 
makefrcs, refresh themselves, and take repose.'* General 
Grant, his second, acquiesced, and others followed, but 
Sir William Erskine exclaimed, ♦* My Lord, if you tritst 
those people to-night, you will see nothing of them in the 
morning.'' This admonition was not regarded, and the 
enemy made their fires and went to supper, as we did 
also, our advanced sentries being posted within 150 
yards of each other. Between this situation of the ar- 
mies of General Washington and Lord Cornwallis on 
the 2d of January, and those of General Burgoyne and 
General Gates on the 20th of September following, a 
striking analogy is perceptible in the most important in- 
cidents, and we discover in the events by what trivial cir- 
cumstances the destinies of armies and of states are con- 
trouled. 

If General Washington by a false step, fi-om which 
mortal man is not exempt, had committed himself to an 
almost liopeless condition, the dispositions he adopted to 
harass and retard the advance of the enemy, were the 
most sagacious his situation admitted; and the zealous^ 
active, courageous agents of his will, on the 2d of Ja- 
nuary, 1777, should be distinguished by grateful recollec- 
tions and the public favour. Of those revolutionary wor- 
thies known to the writer. Hand, Scott, Lawson, Josiah 
and Richard Parker, and David Harris of Baltimore, re- 
pose in the grave, but Miller, and Forest, and Hamilton, 
still live. 

Immediately after dark, a council of war was con- 
vened at General St. Clair's quarters, soutli of the creek, 
and, if memory serves me, in the house of a Miss Dag- 
Worthy, for General Washington had been driven out of 



140 



MEMOIRS BY 



CHAP. 
111. 



Council 
of war, 
and va- 
rious opi- 
nions. 



Proposi- 
tion of 
General 
St. Clair 
adopted. 



his own quarters by the enemy. It may be proper to re- 
mark, that what follows with respect to tlie council of 
war, I received from General St. Clair, to whose person 
1 was attached. 

General Washington, encompassed as he was by dan- 
gers, had but a brief statement to submit to his council; 
the situation of the two armies were known to all ; a 
battle was certain, if l»c kept his ground until the morn- 
ing, and in case of an action a defeat was to be appre- 
hended; a retreat by the only route thought of, down the 
river, would be difficult and precarious; the loss of the 
corps he commanded might be fatal to the country : un- 
der these circumstances he asked advice — opinions were 
various — some inclined to retreat, others to hazard all 
on a general engagement, and it has been suggested to 
me, that tlie commander in chief, yielding to his natural 
propensities, favoured the latter proposition. 

I have before observed that General St. Clair had 
been charged with the guard of the fords of the Assan- 
pink, and in the course of the day whilst examining the 
ground to his right, he had fallen on the road which led 
to the Q,uaker bridge ; whether from this circumstance, 
or what other information I will not presume to say, it was 
this officer who in council suggested the idea of marching 
by. our right and turning the left of the enemy; the practi- 
cability of the route was well understood by Colonel Reed, 
adjutant-general; and the commander in chief, as soon as 
satisfied on this point, adopted the proposition ; and the 
more effectually to mask the movement, he ordered the 
guards to be doubled, a strong fatigue party to be set to 
work on an intrenchment across the road near the mill, 
within distinct hearing of the sentinels of the enemy, the 
baggage to be sent to Burlington, the troops to be silent- 
ly filed oflf by detachments, and the neighbouring fences 
to be used for fuel to our guards, to keep up blazing 
fires until toward day, when they had orders to retire. 

The night, although cloudless, was exceedingly dark, 
and though calm most severely cold, and the movemenife 
was so cautiously conducted as to chide the vigilance of 



GENERAL WILKINSON. Ui 

the enemy. Lieutenant-colonel Sherman led the advanced chap. 
guard, and the brigade of St. Clair, with two six poun- ^^^' 
ders, followed, which placed me at the head of the co- Ni^ht 
lumn near General Washington. I liave recently exa- march to 
mined the route of this night's march, and with tlie as- left flank 
sistance of several contemporaries have given it the^^^'^^ 
direction of G, G, G, G,* which brought us to a small 
wood, A,f south of a Quaker meeting, B, on the left of 
Stoney brook, a little before sunrise, where the main co- 
lumn wheeled to the right, and turning the south-east 
corner of the wood, marched directly for Princeton, 
b, b, b, b, whilst General Mercer, accompanied by seve- General 

ral volunteers, with a detachment consisting of the fraff- fiercer, 
„ _ -, ,, . ^ 11,^. ^'itl his 

ments of Smallwood's regiment, commanded by Captain command 

Stone4 the first Virginia regiment commanded by Cap- and move- 
tain Fleming, and two field pieces under Captain Neal, 
and probably other corps which I do not recollect, but in 
the whole certainly not exceeding 350 men, marched im- 
mediately up Stoney brook, f, as I was informed at the 
time, to take possession "of the bridge, g, for the double 
purpose of intercepting fugitives from Princeton, and to 
cover our rear against Lord Cornwallis from Trenton. 
The morning was bright, serene, and extremely cold, with 
an hoar frost which bespangled every object. A brigade of 
the enemy, commanded by Lieutenant-colonel Mawhood, 
consisting of the 17th, 40th, and 55th regiments, with 
three troops of dragoons, had quartered in Princeton^ the 
preceding night; the 17th had marched to join Lord 
Cornwallis, and its front had reached Cochran's on the 
hill, at d, whilst the head of our column had gained the 
point, h, when casting my eyes towards the Trenton 

• See Atlas, No. V. 

• t See Atlas, No. VI. 

# Afterwards governor of Maryland. 

§ 1 have always been staggered as to the fact of a British brigade 
having halted at Maidenhead, the night of the 2d of January, when 
Lord Cornwallis lay at Trenton, only six miles distant, with the inten- 
tion to engage the next morning; yet it is so recorded in British and 
American history, though the inhabitants of that village now deny 
the assertion. > 



im 



MEMOIRS BY 



CHAP. 
III. 

The ene- 
my disco- 
vered. 



Turns 
about to 
give us 
battle. 



Position 
of Mercer 
and Maw- 
hood. 



A brief 
sketch of 
the affair 
of Prince- 
ton. 



road, I discerned the enemy, by the reflection of thcii? 
arms against the rising sun, ascending the hill in the 
wood near Cochran's ; and perceiving Colonel R. Harri- 
son, the General's secretary, near me, I called iiim, and 
was about to shew him the spectacle which had caught 
my eyes, when it suddenly disappeared, and two horse- 
men leaped a fence, and advanced to a, a, reconnoitred 
us a minute or two, and returned to the rodd, soon after 
which we observed the line come to the right about and 
descend the hill in quick time. When Colonel Mawhood, 
who commanded the irth regiment, discovered the head 
of our column at h, he did not perceive General Mercer, 
wiio was marching up the creek near its left bank, and 
taking us for some liglit party, as the ground concealed 
our numbers, he determined to retrograde and cut us up; 
nor had General Mercer any suspicion of the proximity 
of Mawhood's corps, until he recrossed Stoney brook, 
when a mutual discovery was made at less than 500 
yards distance, and the respective corps then endeavour- 
ed to get possession of the high ground on their right. 
The Americans marching by c, c, reached the house and 
orchard of William Clark, 5, 5, but perceiving the Bri- 
tish line advancing on the opposite side of tiie height, and 
a worm fence between them, they pushed through the or- 
chard, and anticipated their antagonists by about forty 
paces.* The two lines are represented by 1, 2, and 3, 4; , 
the Americans covered by the fence, the British in air, 
their left bearing on a large chesnut tree, then in vigour/ 
now represented by the remains of a stump on the north- 
west edge of the turnpike,| about half a mile north of 
Stt)ney brook, their right extending obliquely from the 
turnpike to a small knoll, on which a solitary oak is now 
standing, covered by two field pieces. The first fire was 
delivered by General Mercer, which the enemy returned 
with a volley, and instantly charged ', and many of our 






* I have measured the ground. 

f This road cuts th» position of the American line obliquely about 
the centre. 



GENERAL WILKINSON. 14S 

men beini? armed with rifles, they were forced after the chap. 
tliinl round to abandon the fence, and fled in disorder. "^' 

The head of our column had now arrived at D, and al- 
though my view of the combatants engaged in this short, 
sharp, close rencontre was obstructed by a swell in tlie 
ground, the retreat of the Americans by William Clark's 
hotisc and barn, 5, 6, was under my eyes, and I noted 
it to General St. Clair, who charged me not to mention 
the circumstance, lest it should affect our own troops. The 
time from the discharge of the first musket, until I per- 
ceived our troops retreating, did not exceed five minutes, 
and I well recollect that the smoke from the discharge of 
the two lines mingled as it rose, and went up in one beau- 
tiful cloud. On hearing the fire, General Washington 
directed the Pennsylvania militia to support General 
Mercer, and in person led them on with two pieces of 
artillery, under Captain William Moulder of the city of 
Philadelphia, who formed in battery on the right of Tho- 
mas Clark's house, 7; the enemy pursued the detachment 
of General Mercer as far as the brow of the declivity, 
o, o, 0, o, when discovering our whole array, instead of 
a partisan corps, they halted and brought up their artil- 
lery ; and being encouraged by the irresolution of the 
militia, notwithstanding the exertions of the commander 
in chief, and their immediate officers to press them for- 
ward, they attempted with a company of infantry to carry 
Captain Moulder's battery,* but being galled by his 
grape, and perceiving Hitchcock's and another continen- 
tal regiment break off and advance from the rear of our 
column, after a few long shot with the militia, they re- 
treated precipitately, leaving their artillery on the 
ground, which for want of horses we could not carry off. 
In this place I must be permitted to state a fact in con- 
tradiction of every historical account I have seen : — Be- 

* This company of militia artillery from Philadelphia was almost 
as much distinguished in its line, as the troop of dragoons, and on 
this day attracted the p^-ticular attention of General Washington ; 
that honest man and good citizen. Colonel William Linnard, of Phi- 
ladelphia, was A subaltern of the company, and stood by one of the 
pieces. 



141 MEMOIRS BY 

CHAP, fore tlie fire had ceased at the first onset, Lieutenant- 
colonel Mawliood, mounted on a brown poney, with ten 
Conduct ^^ twelve file of infantry, and a pair of springing spa- 
of Lt. Col. niels playing before him, crossed our line of direction, 
the men being in a trot, at s, s, so near, that if our ad- 
vanced guard had not unwarrantably halted, he must 
have been intercepted or driven from his course 5 on ob- 
serving the halt of our guard, General St. Clair directed 
me to gallop forward and order a charge, but it was too 
late, as Mawhood had passed, yet the fire of the guard 
knocked down two of his party. 
liie irth That this affair fell on the 17th regiment, I am satis- 
onfv™n- ^^^ from my own observation, which is supported by the 
gaged. Annual Register of 1777,* however incorrect in otiier 
particulars ; the 55th regiment had advanced no further 
than the small wood, C, when the action terminated, and 
they returned and joined the 40th left in quarters at the 
Formation college; thcse corps then advanced and took the posi- 
and re- tion, K, detaching a heavy platoon to C, which induced 
the 40th the American continental troops to display in i, i, the in- 

and 55th temiediate ravine, the head of which is crossed by the 

regiments. ., . 

present turnpike, is somewhat deep and steep; two re- 
giments were ordered to attack, and had crossed the ra- 
vine and were ascending the opposite side within sixty or 
80 yards of the enemy, who were still concealed from 
our view by the acclivity, when they turned about and 
precipitated themselves into the college, the windows of 
which were immediately knocked out, and we expected 
warm work ; but before we got within a quarter of a 
mile, tliey rushed out at the front and retreated by files 
in t, t, t, t, crossed Millstone at Rocky hill, and made 
good their escape to Brunswick; they made so long a 
trail and moved in such loose disorder, that two troops 
of dragoons would have picked up the two regiments ; 
unfortunately our whole cavalry consisted of twenty-two 
of the Philadelphia 1st troop, who were actively engaged 
in another quarter; there was but one gun fired at tlie 

* See pages 18 and 19. t 



GENERAL WILKINSON. U5 

college, and this from a six pounder, by an officer who chap. 
was not advised the enemy had abandoned it ; the ball • 

recoiled, and very nearly killed my horse as I was pass- 
ins^ in rear of the building. 
At the time General Mercer eneraffcd the 17th regi- Conduct 

^ ^ ^ ot Colonel 

ment, Colonel Hand endeavoured, by a rapid movement. Hand, and 
to turn the enemy's left flank, and had nearly succeed- t^e^ne-^ 
ed when they fled in disorder, not toward Maidenhead, my. 
as is stated by all the historians, but up the north side of 
Stoncy brook, over fields and fences, without regard to 
roads, and inclining towards Pennington j* the riflemen 
were therefore the first in the pursuit, and in fact took 
the greatest part of the prisoners j they were accompa- 
nied by General Washington in person, with a squad of 
the Philadelphia troop, among whom Mr John Donald- 
son distinguished himself in an eminent degree : in the 
ardour of the pursuit he had separated himself from the 
troop, and as the infantry could not keep up, he found 
himself alone and liable to be shot by any straggler of 
the enemy who would not surrender^ yet unwilling to 
slacken his pace, he mounted a Lieutenant Simpson be- 
hind him, who wlienever a fugitive threatened to be refrac- 
tory, jumped ofi* and shot him, and in this manner three 
men, whilst taking aim at Mr. Donaldson, were knocked 
down and his life saved, but he made a score of prison- 
ers, whom he sent to his rear after disarming them.>— - 
Simpson was afterwards a captain, and I saw him at his 
seat on the Susquehanna in the year 1796, It was ou 
this occasion the late David Harris, esq. of Baltimore^ 
who was a captain of riflemen, informed me that the Ge- 
neral, whilst encouraging the pursuit, exclaimed " It is 
a fine fox chase, imj boys /" — Such was the impetuosity of 

* For this fact I will refer to General Washington's letter of the 
5th of January, who says, "they were chased three or four miles, 
and that the enemy from Maidenhead was up with us before the pur- 
suit was over," and also to Mr. John Donaldson of Philadelphia, and 
to General Henry Miller, now residing in the forks of Juniata and the 
Susquehanna, who was on that day major of Hand's riflemen.^ 

VbT.. I, T 



146 MEMOIRS BY 

CHAP. €lie man's character, when he gave reins to his sensi- 
xJ!iX^ hilities. 

Our loss I" *^'^ affair our numerical loss was inconsiderable — 
in the it did not exceed thirty ; fourteen only were buried in 
Princeton, the field ;* but it was of great magnitude in worth and 
talents; Colonels Haslet and Porter, Major Morris, and 
Captain William Shippen were respected in their grades; 
Captains Fleming and Neal presented fair promises of 
professional excellence ; but in General Merccrf we lost 

* I had this fact lately from Joseph Clark, son of William, whose 
house still bears the marks of the enemy's shot, the lowest of which, 
is eight or ten feet from the ground ; his barn shews the mark of a 
cannon shot twenty feet from the ground. 

f On the night of the 1st of January, General Mercer, Colonel C. 
Biddle, and Doctor Cochran, spent the evening with General St. 
Clair. Fatigued with the duties of the day, I had lain down in the 
same apartment, and my attention was attracted by the turn of their 
conversation, on the recent promotion of Captain William Washing- 
ton, from a regiment of infantry to a majority of cavalry. General 
Mercer expressed his disapprobation of the measure; at which the 
gentlemen appeared surprised, as it was the reward of acknowledged 
gallantry ; and Mercer, in explanation, observed : " We are not en- 
gaged in a war of ambition ; if it had been so, I should never have ac« 
cepted a commission under a man who had not seen a day's service 
(alluding to the great orator, and distinguished patriot, Patrick 
Henry) ; we serve not for ourselves but for our country, and every 
jnan should be content to fill the place in which he can be most use- 
ful. I know Washington to be a good captain of infantry, but I know 
not what sort of a major of horse he may make; and 1 have seen good 
captains make indifferent majors : for my own part, my views in this 
contest are confined to a single object, that is, the success of the 
cause, and God can witness how cheerfully I would lay down my life 
to secure it." The compact was scaled, and within thirty-six hours 
he received his mortal wounds from the bayonets of the enemy. 

General Mercer, a Scotchman by birth, was a physician by profes- 
sion, and I have heard the following interesting incident of his life : 
He served in the campaign of 1755, with General Braddock, and was 
wounded through the shoulder in the unfortunate action near Fort du 
Quesne ; unable to retreat, he lay down under cover of a large fallea 
tree, and in the pursuit, an Indian leaped upon his covert immediate- 
ly over him, and after looking about a few seconds for the direction 
of the fugitives, he sprang off without observing the wounded man 
who lay at his feet. 6o soon as the Indians had killed the woundedj 



GENERAL WILKINSON,, ' i47 

^a chief, who for education, experience, talents, disposi- CHAP, 
tion, integrity and patriotism, was second to no man but ^"' 
the commander in cliief, and was qualified to fill the character 
Iiighest trusts of the country. The manner in whicii he of General 
was wounded, is an evidence of the excess to which the 
common soldiery are liable in the heat of action, particu* 
larly when irritated by the loss of favourite officers; being 
obstructed when advancing; by a post and rail fence, in 
front of the orchard, it may be presumed the General 
dismounted voluntarily, for he was on foot* when the 
troops gave way; in exerting himself to rally them he 
was thrown into the rear, and perceiving he could not 
escape, he turned about somewhere near William Clark's 
barn, 6, and surrendered, hut was instantly knocked Surren- 
down, and bayoneted thirteen times, when feigning to be enemy 
dead, one of his murderers exclaimed, " Damn him he is and is 
dead, let us leave him." After the retreat of tlie enemy, gd^" 
lie was conveyed to the house of Thomas Clark, 7, to 
whom he gave this account, and languished until the 12th, 
when he expired.f 

The loss of the enemy was much more considerable in Lossofth\ 
point of numbers, and Captain Leslie's death appeared ^"^"y* 
to afflict the prisoners very sensibly. At their instance 
his body was conveyed to Pluckamin, and was there in- 
terred with the honours of war; on which occasion it 
was remarked, that many of the men, and particularly 

-scalped the dead, rifled the baggage, and cleared the field, the ufi- 
Ibrtunate Mercer, finding himself exceedingly faint and thirsty, from 
loss of blood, crawled to an adjacent brook, and after drinking plert- 
tifuUy, found himself so much refreshed, that he was able to walk, 
and commenced his return by the road the army had advanced ; but 
being without subsistence, and more than an hundred miles from any 
Christian settlement, he expected to die of famine, when he observed 
a rattlesnake on his path, which he killed and contrived to skin, and 
throwing it over his sound shoulder, he subsisted on it as the claims 
ef nature urged until he reached Fort Cumberland on the PotowmacB. 

• Joseph Clark informs me that his horse was observed after the , 
action, with a fore leg broken by a shot. 

t I I'^d this account recently from Joseph Ckrk, who cfCCUtpifes the 
'field of battle, and is nephew to Thonta's. 



113 MEMOIRS BY 

CHAP, those of lii.s company, wept bitterly. We conducted nine 
^"' officers and about two hundred and thirty non-commis- 
sioned officers and privates to tlie same place, and about 
fifty more were captured and marched into Pennsylvania. 
In fact, the 17th regiment was dismembered, and the 
40th and 55th suffered considerably by desertion and 
other casualties ; the dragoons escaped to Trenton soon 
after we were discovered. 

When the troops were assembled in Princeton, the ab- 
sence of the General, who had been led away some dis- 
tance in the pursuit of the fugitives, excited strong emo- 
tions of alarm for his safety, which he soon relieved by 
his presence. We found in the town some shoes and 
blankets, which were very opportune, and for my own 
part, I made a most seasonable acquisition in a break- 
fast at the provost's house, which had been prepared 
for a mess of the 40th regiment, who the steward in- 
formed rae were sitting down as the fire commenced. 
Before we got clear of the town, our rear guard at 
Stoney brook under Brigadier-general Potter of the mi- 
litia of Pennsylvania, was exchanging shot with the ene- 
my from Trenton, and Captain Forest with his artillery 
was again engaged in coveriug our retreat. 

Pressed as we were for time, it was the desire of the [ 
commander in chief, and the inclination of every officer, 
to make a stroke at Brunswick, which had been left with 
a small garrison, in charge of General Matthews; but 
our physical force could not bear us out ; the men had 
been under arms eighteen hours, and had suffered much 
from cold and hunger. The commander and several ge- | 
iieral officers halted at the forks of the road in Kingston, 
whilst our troops were filing off to Rocky hill, when the 
exclamation was general, « O that we had 500 fresh men 
to beat up their quarters at Brunswick." But the mea- 
sure was found to be impracticable, and therefore we pro- 
Thearmy ceeded down Millstone river, and halted at Somerset 
Somerset court-house, where many of the militia, whose baggage 
court- had been sent to Burlington, lay in the open air without 
^^^^' blankets. Wc marched the next day to PJluckamin, and 



GENERAL WILKINSON. I49 

halted until the 5th, It had been previously detei'mined chap. 
by the General, on the advice of General St. Clair,* '"^• 
after the plan of visiting Brunswick had been aban- 
doned, to take quarters at Morristown ; but the troops 
\vcfe so much exhausted, that they required a short res- 
pite from fatigue. I think it was on the 5th, during our 
halt at Pluckamin, that General Washington made a pre- 
text for sending a flag to Brunswick, of which his aid de 
camp, Colonel Fitzgerald, was the bearer : he was cour- 
teously received, and introduced to most of the general 
officers, who spoke freely of the trick General Washing- 
ton had played them, and the race they had run, as they 
had made a forced march from Trenton to Brunswick — 
such was their alarm for the safety of their magazine. I 
ascribe to that visit, though with diffidence, the report of 
Sir William Erskine's having objected to Lord Cornwal- 
lis's post]ionement of his attack at Trenton, the evening 
of the 2d; indeed if my recollection does not deceive mc, 
>vhen on hearing the firing in the morning, Lord Corn- 
wallis inquired wliat it could be, Erskine replied, " My 
Lord, it is Washington at Princeton." The recital of 
Captain Leslie's death, and the respect with which his 
body had been treated, affected General Leslie so sensi- 
bly, that he retired to a window and shed tears; and 
when Colonel Fitzgeral returned, he sent his acknow- 
ledgments to General Washington. 

We reached Morristown the sixth, and the troops Reaches 
were cantoned in the vicinity. This position, little un- f^°"'anj 
derstood at the time, was afterwards discovered to be goes into 
a most safe one for the winter quarters of an army of 'l"*"^"- 
observation, and such was General Washington's; the Advan- 
appi-oach to it frojn the sea-board is rendered difficult ^^S^ °^ . 
and dangerous by a chain of sharp hills, which extend tion. 
from Pluckamin by Bound brook and Springfield to the 
vicinity of the Passaic river; it is situate in the heart of 
a country abounding with forage and provisions, and is 
nearly equidistant from New York and Amboy, and also 

• He was the only general officer acquainted with that quarter of 
the country, 



150 MEMOIRS BY 

CHAP, from Newark and New Brunswick, with defiles in rear 
^' to cover a retreat should circumstances render it neces- 
sary. 

Before I close this chapter, I must be permitted to offer 
a tribute of justice to conspicuous worth. At a time when 
gloom pervaded the land, and hope had almost yielded to 
despair, it should never be forgotten that Captain Samuel 
Morris, with twenty-one gentlemen of Philadelphia, most 
of them with families, and all of them in independent 
circumstances, did in an inclement season, take leave 
of their domestic happiness and personal comforts, to 
rally around the standard of their country, and furnish- 
ed an example, as rare as it was disinterested and pa- 
triotic. The following testimonial of General Washing- 
ton is paramount to all praise, and I am apprehensive 
that any eulogium of mine, under all the circumstaucesj 
might incur the charge of presumption. 

Discharge from General Washington. 

"The Philadelphia troop of light horse, under the 
command of Captain Morris, having performed their 
tour of duty, I take this opportunity of returning my 
most sincere thanks to the Captain and to the gentlemen 
who compose the troop, for the many essential services^ 
which they have rendered their country, and to me per- 
sonally, during the course of this severe campaign. 
Though composed of gentlemen of fortune, they have 
shewn a noble example of discipline and subordination, 
and in several actions have manifested a spirit and bra- 
very which will ever do honour to them, and will ever be 
gratefully remembered by me. 

*. GO. WASHINGTON. 
« 77. Quarters, Morristown, Jan, 2Sd, ±777 J* 

But it ought to be known, that the military merits and 
patriotism of the 1st troop of Philadelphia dragoons have 
been crowned by an act of liberality and benevolence, 
worthy of record in letters of gold. Having disbursed 



GENERAL WILKINSON. i5i 

their own expenses during the war, at the return of chap. 
peace, and on a final adjustment of their claims against "^• 
the government for their services, they vested the amoont 
in 16 shares of the capital stock of the bank of Pennsylva- 
nia, which they conveyed to the contributors of the Penn- 
sylvania hospital, for the benefit of a Ij^ing-in and found- 
ling liospital, and the donation is distinguished on the books 
of the institution, as f* the fund bestowed by the first troop 
of Philadelphia cavalry to the lying-in and foundling hoS' 
pital." Thus the earnings of valour were bequeathed to 
the unfortunate victims of passion, and the hand of the 
patriot soldier contributed its mite, to the consolation of 
the sex which gave him life and cherished his infancy, 
^he names of the twenty-two who lay on the borders of 
the enemy, and served under General Washington du- 
ring an inclement season, as couriers, guards, patroles 
and videttes, were, 

Samuel Morris, captain John Donaldson 

James Budden, 2d lieut. Thomas Peters 

John Dunlap, cornet William Pollard 

Thomas Leiper, 1st sergt. James Caldwell 

William Hall, 2d do. William Tod 

Samuel Howell, jr. 1st corp. Samuel Caldwell 

James Hunter, 2d do. John Lardner 

Levi Hollingsworth Alexander Nesbet 

George Campbell Thomas Leaming 

John Mease Jonathan Penrose 

Blair M<Clenachan George Qraff. 



15^ MEMOIRS BY 



CHAPTER IV, 



CHAP. General Washington- s situation. — His conduct contrasted 
^"^ with that of Sir William Howe. — General Howe*s con- 
duct canvassed. — Militia of the Jerseys reanimated.-— 
Dictatorial powers granted to General Washington. — ; 
He appoints Major Wilkinson a lieutenant-colonelf and 
suffers him to choose his corps f and to appoint the officers 
, cf three companies. — Wilkinson sends out his recruiting 
parties and repairs to Philadclphiaf where he finds GC' 
'neral Gates in command. — The trial, condemnation, and 
execution of James Molesworth, a spy. — General Gates 
appointed to command the northern department, solicits 
Wilkinson to accompany him, who with the permission of 
General Washington resigns his commission of Lieut. Col, 
and follows Gates to Mbany. — Reflections on this siept 
and the persecutions which ensued.^— Arrives at Mbamj, 
and is sent to Ticonderoga. — Letters of 16th, 22d, and 
QGth May, from Major Wilkinson to General Gates. — 
Reflections on the loss of Ticonderoga. — The benefits rC' 
sidting from this event. — Patriotic deliberations of Con- 
gress interrupted by personal and local prejudices.— -'In' 
consistency of its proceedings, — General Schuyler reaches 
Albany, and resumes the command of the northern depart- 
ment. — General St. Clair ordered to the command of Ti- 
conderoga, and arrives there. — Difficulties of his sitnU' 
Hon, reflections thereon and causes thereof. — His letter 
to the President of Congress.— -Major Wilkinson appoint' 
td deputy adjutant-general. — His letters to General Gates, 
May 31, and of the 10th of June. — General Schuyler 
visits Ticonderoga. — A Council of war held. — Opinions 
of Colonel Wilkinson at that period, respecting the defence 
of the place, — Explanation had with General Schuyler, 



GENERAL WILKINSON. 153 

respecting his letter to General Gates of June 10th. — Ge- chap. 
neral Schuyler leaves Tlconderoga. — Wilkinson's letter 
to General Gates, June 2,5th. 

The continued fluctuation of numbers in General 
Washington's army, which now depended almost exclu- 
sively on the militia, again placed liim in the power of 
the enemy ; but fortunately the habitual indolence of Sir 
William Howe, or his disinclination to terminate the war, 
restricted his troops to their winter quaitcrs. The ex- 
traordinary revolutions in our militai-y affairs, and the 
very opposite conduct of the commanders towards the 
people of the country, worked a wonderful effect on po- 
pular sentiment; it went home to the feelings and inte- 
rests of whig and tory, and cannot be more precisely de- 
fined than by the contrast of the following documents, 
which are certainly entitled to particular notice in these 
memoirs. 

Extract from General Howe's orders to Colonel Count Do- 
nop, commander of the Hessian cantonments along the 
Deknvare. 



"All salted meat and provisions, which may be judged Conduct 
to exceed the quantity necessary for the subsistence of ^jjj|^j^ 
an ordinary family, shall be considered as a magazine of Howe and 
the enemy, and seized for the king, and given to the waslihig- 
troops as a saving for the public." ton. 

In this authentic warrant, no discrimination is made 
between the property of the loyal subject with his pro- 
tection in his pocket, and the contumacious rebel who re- 
sisted the royal authority at every hazard ; what was the 
';<)nduct of General Washington ? 

EXTRACT FROM GENERAL ORDERS. 

//. Q. Morristorvn, Jan. Q2d, 1777". 
*• The General prohibits both the militia and continen- 
tal troops, in the most positive terms, the infamous prac- 

\PL. I. U 



154. MEMOIRS BY 

ctiAP. tice of pluntlcriiig the inhabitants under the specious pve- 
^^- text of their being torics. Let the persons of such as are 
known to be enemies of their country, be seized and con- 
fined, and tlicir property disposed of as the law of the 
state directs. It is our business to give protection and 
support to the poor distressed inhabitants, not to multi- 
ply and increase their calamities. After the publication 
of this order, any officei', either militia or continental, 
found plundering tiie inhabitants, under the pretence of 
tlieir being tories, may expect to be punished in the se- 
verest manner, and be obliged to account for every thing 
so taken. 

" J. REED, Mjutant-general" 

The preceding order to Count Donop, was found at 
Bordentown, after his flight from that place; it was pub- 
lished in the Evening Post of Philadelphia, Jan. 28th, 
1777, and will serve to prove to posterity, that while Sir 
William Howe neglected his duty to his sovereign, and 
permitted the brutal outrages and excesses* committed 
on the matron and the virgin of the Jerseys, which dis- 
honour the military profession and disgrace the pages of 
liistory, he not only connived at, but expressly sanction- 
ed the spoliation of private property, without respect to 
friend or foe, exhibiting a singular spectacle of apathy 
and indifference to the obligations of duty and sound po- 
licy, the claims of humanity, and the principles of re- 
ligion. 

If the yeomanry of the Jerseys, panic struck by the 
triumphant march of a victorious army, and seduced by 
the blandishments and fair promises of the British com- 
missioners, shrunk from their duty and abandoned thei 
standard of their country, in November and December,) 
1776, they discovered before January, 1777, that the 
powers of the invaders were limited, and the promises of 

* See the testimony published in the Pennsylvania Evening Post, 
April 24th and 29th, May 1st, 3d, and 10th, 1777; and the Joum^lsl 
of Congress, 1777, p. 115, 116. 



GENERAL AVILKINSON. 155 

die commissioners perfidious. Stung with remorse by the chap. 
retrospect of their pusillanimity, and fired witli indigna- *^- 
tion by the outrageous injuries they had suffered, they 
again resumed their arms, and the old and tite young, 
determined to avenge their wrongs upon the authors of 
their misery, and the enemies of their country: hence- 
forward the militia of the Jerseys stood pre-eminent 
among the defenders of the public cause; they hovered 
around the enemy, and harassed him whenever he stepped 
beyond his stationary guards ; the aged watched, ex- 
plored, designed — the youth, alert, courageous, and ever 
ready for the onset, planted a hedge of pickets in General 
"Washington's front, to abate his painful solicitudes, to con- 
ceal his nakedness, and support the revolution, during the 
period in which a second army was totally disbanded, and a 
third levied under the eyes of the British commander, who Apathy of 
with 27,000* veteran troops of Europe at his disposal, tish^om- 
made no exertion to discourage the recruiting of the mander. 
American corps, or to recover the ground he had lost. 
The continued pressure of General Washington's diffi- The con- 
culties are best described in his correspondence. On the tJ-ess of '^' 
19th of January, 1777, he writes the president of Con- General 
gress from Morristown : " The fluctuating state of our ^^^ ^ ^"^' 
array, composed chiefly of militia, bids fair to reduce us 
to the situation in which we were some time ago; that is, 
of scarcely having any army at all. One of the batta- 
lions from the city of Philadelphia goes home to-day, and 
the other two remain a few days through courtesy. The 
time for which a country brigade under General Mifflin 
came out is expired, and they stay from day to day by 
dint of solicitation, their numbers much reduced by de- 
sertion. We have about 800 of the eastern continental 
troops remaining of 1200 or 1400, who first agreed to 
stay ; part engaged to the last of this month, part to the 
middle of next. Tlie five Virginia regiments are reduced 

* See Letters to a Nobleman on tlie Conduct of the War, printed by 
J.WUkle, London, 1777— also General Robinson's Testimony before 
the House of Commons, 



156 



MEMOIRS BY 



CHAP. 
IV. 



Jan. 5. 
Colonel 
Spencer 
and Gene- 
ral Dick- 
inson dis- 
tinguish 
theon- 
selves in 
the petit 
guerre. 



Colonel 
Nelson's 
enter- 
prize, 
Feb. 18. 



to a Iiandfiil of men, as are Colonel Hand's, SmaJlwood's, 
and the Gei-man battalion. A few days ago. Genera! 
Warner arrived without about 700 Massachusetts mili- 
tin, engaged to the 15tli March. Thus you have a sketch 
of our present army, with which we aie obliged to keep 
up appearances before an enemy ali'eady double to us in 
numbers, and who from eveiy account are withdrawing 
their troops from Rhode Island, to form a junction of 
their whole army, and make another attempt to break 
np onrs, or penetrate towards Philadelphia; a thing by 
no means difficult now, as the ice affords an easy passage 
over the Delaware.^* And in a letter to the commanding 
officer in Philadelpliia, dated Head Quarters, Morris- 
town, Jan. 24(h, 1777, he says, " My situation will not 
admit of the smallest delay, in despatching and forward- 
ing to this place all the troops in Philadelphia. Let the 
utmost expedition be used in fitting them out, as fast as 
they arrive, and no time iSe lost in sending them on un- 
der proper officers." 

In such circumstances, this resurrection of the dormant 
spirit of the Jerseys was most critical; the first notable 
manifestation of it was made by Colonel Spencer, who 
with an equal number of militia attacked fifty Waldeck- 
ers near Springfield, killed ten, and made the rest pri- 
soners vvitli two commissioned officers. This cheering 
success was followed by a stroke of more importance. 
General Dickinson, with four hundred Jersey militia and 
fifty Pennsylvania riflemen, attacked a foraging party 
of the enemy of equal numbers, with three field pieces, 
and charged them so vigorously, that they gave way and 
abandoned their convoy, but carried off their killed and 
wounded : in this affair General Dickinson acquired 
much credit ; he made nine prisoners, and took forty 
wagons, with upwards of 100 English draft horses, 
and a number of sheep and cattle which the enemy had 
collected ; and soon after this brilliant exploit. Colonel 
Nelson of Brunswick, who was an exile from his domi- 
cile, with 150 yeomanry, surprised and captured a major 
and fifty-nine loyalists in British pay. This current of 



GENERAL WILKINSON. igy 

good fortune on our part depressed the confidence of the chap. 
enemy, raised the spirits of the country, and produced the *^" 
most happy effects on the recruiting service. 

Moved by the representations of General Washington Dec. 27. 
and the desperate state of public affairs, the Congress ^J^^^ 
had on the 27th of December reluctantly conferred on sivepow. 
him very extensive general powers,* with specific autho- ferred"on 
rity to appoint and levy sixteen battalions of infantry. General 
three thousand cavalry, three regiments of artillery, and ton. 
a corps of engineers 5 and he lost no time in entering 
upon the organization and appointment of these corps. 
Sliortly after our arrival at Morristown, he did me the 
honour to offer me a lieutenant>.colonelcyf in one of the Major 
sixteen battalions, which I accepted, and was arranged is appoint- 
to that of Colonel Nathaniel Guest ^ but being informed edaLieut. 
that this gentleman had been bred on the southern fron- j^, . 12,* 



1777. 



• " Friday, December 27th, 1776. 

"The Congress having maturely considered the present crisis, and 
having perfect reliance on the wisdom, vigour and uprightness of Ge- 
neral Washington^ do hereby resolve, that General Washington shall 
be, and be is hereby vested with full, ample and complete powers to 
raise and collect together, in the most speedy and effectual manner, 
from uTiy or all of these United States, sixteen battalions of infantry, 
in addition to those already voted by Congress; to appoint officers 
for the said battalions of infantry; to raise, officer, and equip 3000 
light horse, three regiments of artillery, and a corps of engineers, 
and to establish their pay ; to apply to any of the states for such aid 
of the militia as he shall judge necessary; to form such magazines 
of provisions, and in such places as he shall think proper; to displace 
and appoint all officers under the rank of Brigadier-general, and to 
fill up all vacancies in e^'ery other department in the American ar- 
mies ; to take, wherever he may be, whatever he may want for the 
use of the army, if the inhabitants will not sell it, allowing a reason- 
able price for the same ; to arrest and confine persons who refuse to 
take the continental currency, or are otherwise disaffected to the 
American caust ; and return to the states of which they are citizens, 
their names, and the nature of their offences, together with the wit- 
nesses to prove them.— That the foregoing powers be vested in Ge- 
neral Washington for and during the term of six months from the 
date hereof, unless sooner determined by Congress." 

t 1 was then in my twentieth year. 



158 



MEMOIRS BY 



crrAP. tier, 1 was fearful a difference of education uiiglit be, 
^^' prejudicial to the harmony of the corps, and took the 
liberty to offer the suggestion to the General, who was 
pleased to say, that it was " to remedy the defects of lax 
discipline and polite manners, he had attached me to the 
corps of Colonel Guest, who although a rough was a 
brave and a good man." My apprehensions of the con- 
tact were not however removed, and finally the General 
indulged me with an election, and I chose Colonel Tho- 
mas Hartley, with whom I had served in Canada, for 
my immediate superior. My instructions for the re- 
cruiting service were soon arranged, and I repaired to 
Maryland, with authority to appoint officers to three 
companies, for whom I received blank commissions from 
General Washington, to be filled up at my discretion. 

I left head quarters at Morristown in the Jerseys about 
the 15th of January, and hastened to the place of my de- 
signation, where I proceeded to a selection of platoon 
officers for the three companies, to be appointed by me, 
and among those of my appointment, I recollect Captain 
Benjamin Stoddert,* since secretary of the navy, the va- 
lued friend of my youth and age. Captain Richard Wil- 
son of Queen Ann county, an esteemed and respectable 
acquaintance, who made a brilliant officer, and Lieute- 
nant Henry Carberry, late a colonel in the army. Hav- 
ing completed the appointments depending on me, and 
put my recruiting parties in operation, I returned to Phi- 
ladelphia, the regimental rendezvous, the beginning of 
March, where I found General Gates in command, and 
he immediately invited the renewal of the intimacy with 
Avhich he had honoured me the preceding campaign. 
Trial, Soon after my arrival in Philadelphia, I was ordered 

condem- ^j^g ^j.jg^j of James Molesworth, accused of beins: a spy 

nation and o i .^ 

execution from the enemy, and for endeavouring to inveigle three 
MoleT^^ pilots into their service, to conduct their ships of war to 
worth. the attack of the city of Philadelphia. This case was the 



* Stoddert was wounded in the battle of Brandywine, and Car- 
Tierry on General Sullivan's expedition against the Indians. 



GENERAL WILKINSON. I59 

ilrst which had occurred after the revolt of the colonies, chap. 
and several circumstances occurred to produce embar- *^- 
rassments; the law martial could alone apply to the of- 
fence charged against the culprit, hut it had not been 
committed within the precincts of a military camp or 
garrison, nor was the attempt made on a military cha- 
racter; yet it was hostile to the revolutionary cause— 
the example was dangerous in its tendency, and the pub- 
lic safety required it should be nipped in the bud, to deter 
evil doers from the repetition of it ; the Congress inter- 
posed its omnipotent and unrestrained authority; Major- 
general Gates ordered the court, approved the sentence, 
and directed the execution, but submitted the proceed- 
ings to Congress, who after reading the same, declared, 
" and it appearing thereby that the same James Molse- 
worth is found guilty of the crimes laid to his charge, 
and sentenced to suffer death, resolved, that Congress 
approve the sentence aforesaid, and confirm the orders of 
General Gates for the execution of it;" and he was ac- 
cordingly executed— but the opinion of the court w^as not 
unanimous. This victim of policy was obscure in his 
birth and circumstances, with an exterior of simplicity 
and meekness; he appeared strongly attached to a fe- 
male, wlio was suspected of an intimacy with a Mr. 

F s, and I frequently, by order, visited him in his 

cell, with promises of pardon, if he would discovei^ his 
accomplices: his extreme sensibility and religious de- 
votion affected ray heart, and I felt as if I could liave 
given half my existence to have saved him; but he made 
no confession, nor did he implicate any person, though 
he wrote several ambiguous and incoherent notes to the 
female alluded to. 

On the 25th of March, General Gates was again ap- General 
pointed to the command of the northern department,* p^'n'e^^to 

" Philadelphia, March 26th, 1776. 
" Sir, 

" I had the honour to receive your excellency's letter of yesterday 
evening, and am happy in being again appointed to the important 



XQO BffiMOIRS BY 

CHAP, and urged me so stronglj' to accompany him, that I at 

iV. length consented, provided General Wasliington would 

permit me: and to ascertain his will I mounted my 
the com- '■ ' 

mamlof horse and waited on him at Morristown. I arrived in 

^rnde'^'^ the evening, and wlicn I presented myself, found him 

paitment. alone j he received me kindly, but when I opened my 

business, by asking leave to resign my lieutenant-cido- 

nelcy, he seemed piqued, and asked me what I proposed 

to do ; I answered, " to accompany General Gates.'* 

Wilkinson He enquired « for vrhat reason ?" I replied, that I had 

with per- « served in the northern department, had made observa- 

General tions on the topography of the country, which I believed 

Washing. vvQuld enable me to render more service there than else- 
ton, sacri- 
fices his where, and 1 had understood it was probable the most 

commis- j^ctive operations would be in that quarter." He replied 

company a I would to God, gentlemen could for once know their 

Gates °^^" minds ; I have been endeavoring to form a register 

of the army, but meet with so many caprices, that I fear 

it will be impossible; but if you have a mind to resign, 

you have my permission." At this last expression my 

, young heart leaped with joy, so warmly had General 

Gates attached it to him, by his indulgence of my self 

love. I took leave of General Washington with grateful 

acknowledgments, and returned to Philadelphia on the 

wings of impatience, to equip myself for the campaign, 

and follow General Gates, who had set out for Albany 

the beginning of April. 

command of the northern department. The honourable the Congress 
may rest assured of my utmost diligence anel ability being exerted in 
iheir service: my firm Integrity and warmest gratitude are also due 
to the United Slates for this mark of respect from you. Sir, and tlie 
Congress. I propose leaving this city on Monday morning, and shall 
proceed without delay to execute tlie duties of my station. That the 
events of the ensuing campaign may fill with joy the friends of free- 
dom, and satisfy the appointments ^of Congress, is the ardeiit wish of 
" Sir, your most obedient humble servant, 

"HORATIO GATES, Major-general. 

" His Excellency Gen. George IVashington, Commander in Chief, 
Head Quarters, Morristoxun.*' 



GENERAL WILKINSON. 161 

I intreat the particular attention of the reader to this chap. 
transaction, because it will prove that the pride of mi- '^• 
litary ambition had not tlien infected my bosom, and 
my whole soul was devoted to the cause of my country j 
it is true, I was emulous of distinction, but it was more 
the distinction of service, than that of rank: Heaven will 
bear me witness, that I now record what I then felt, and 
the precious sentiment has been illustrated by my subse- 
quent conduct 5 but it will be recollected by my contem- 
poraries, that the calumnies wherewith my character was 
assailed in the bud of life, were signalised by imputations 
of ingratitude to General Gates; that these have been 
made auxiliary to the more modern slanders, with which 
1 have been persecuted, and that the incongruous mass has 
been carefully handed down to posterity, by men whose 
malevolence is insatiable; those warm hearted, candid and 
ingenuous characters, who have been prejudiced against 
me by misrepresentations, will perceive on the perusal of 
these sheets, that I made my noviciate in arms at my own 
expense, and at tlie sacrifice of an honourable profession ; 
that under the patronge and personal observation of Gene- 
ral Washington, I mounted from a company to a lieute- 
nant-colonelcy in the line, and that at the instance of Gene- 
ral Gates, surely to serve him and not myself, at a time 
when I did not owe him a shadow of obligatiDn, I was 
induced after almost two years of incessant active ser- 
vice, between the Atlantic and the St. Lawrence, to re- 
sign my lineal rank and its emoluments, and to accept a 
subordinate station on the staff, from which I had been 
promoted. To military men this may appear a jiheno- 
roenun, and the incident drew the following brief remark 
from the virtuous old General Armstrong, < the hero of 
Kittanning,* when he heard it, — <« Well, wonders will 
never cease, while lieutenant-colonels of the line resign 
to become majors of the staff; it is a new thing under 
tiie sun." But my motives have been explained, and 
must justify my conduct, or I shall cheerfully abide tlie 
censure of those who are not satisfied. 

VOL. I. X 



i0S MEMOIRS BY 

CHAP. I reached Albany the latter end of April, and was 
soon after despatched by General Gates, with instructions 
to examine and regulate tlie chain of communication 
with Ticonileroga, which depending on a combination of 
land and water transport, had in the course of the pre- 
ceding wintei" been entirely deranged, by tiie negligence 
and misconduct of the public agents; and after perform- 
ing tliis service, I was directed to take post at Ticonde- 
roga, enter upon my functions of brigade major, and 
keep the General regularly advised of the state of the 
garrison, and every material occurrence. The following 
communications will best explain the manner in which I 
discharged my duty, and I submit them to the indulgent 
consideration of the reader, as the production of an ar- 
dent, inexperienced youth, who had not reached his twen- 
tieth year. 

« Ticonderoga, May 16tht 1777. 
« My dear General, 
l<etieis of <« I arrived here on the 13th inst. and was politely re- 

and 26Ui reived by General P , who immediately ordered re- 

May,i777, turns from the several departments under his command, 
referred ^{^j^h after a great deal of trouble, I have obtained, and 
now inclose you. Their inaccuracy I hope will be ex- 
cused, as the adjutants are in general new hands, and the 
management of this department lias degenerated incredi- 
bly. I flatter myself their next efforts will be more in- 
telligible. Colonel Hay went yesterday to Skeensbo- 
rough, and promised to meet this express at Fort Ed- 
ward, with the state of that post. Wood creek, tlie Saw 
mill, &c. which I desired him to inclose to you. 

« Tliere is a general cry for clothing ; the shirts in 
store are refused by the soldiery, and are in fact too 
mean to be worn : there is a total want of iron proper 
for mounting the artillery, and a great demand for arms 
and accoutremehts; those arms which have lately arrived 
'from Albany, were so flimsily repaired, as not to be^x'- 



GENERAL AVILKINSON. i^63 

tAe transportation, which has put them in a worse condi- chap, 
tion than when they were sent away : lience I think will ^^• 
appear the absurdity of establishing the armoury at Al- 
bany, and the propriety of moving it to this post, where 
it is so immediately needed : the least injury to a fire- 
lock renders it useless until it has travelled to that place 
and back again, with the imminent risk (if a body may 
judge from present appearances) of being returned worse 
than it went away. 

« This garrison is considerably obliged to Major Ste- 
vens* of the artillery, an active, honest, and industrious 
officer^ he directs the laboratory, and will in a little time, 
if supplied with paper, fix ammunition enough for the 
troops. Your last campaign established a company of 
artificers under his direction, which you will now observe 
included in his return ; they are an excellent set of hands, 
and will alone I think be able to prepare the wood work 
necessary for mounting the artillery destined for the post; 
but unless iron is furnished, this will be of no conse- 
quence. I inclose you the examinations of a number of 
tories, who were intercepted in arms on the east and west 
sides of the lake, and are now in custody. General P 
waits your orders respecting them. 

*<\Vhitcomb was detached on the 14th inst. with a 
party of 150 men, in quest of M<Alpin*s crew, and will, 
I fancy, spare no pains to fall in with them. 

« When I arrived here, I understood that the enemy 
were forming a post at Gilliland's creek, consisting chief- 
ly of Indians and tories. I urged the necessity of imme- 
diately dislodging them, and the General has sent out a 
scout to reconnoitre their situation j his return will de- 
termine what must be done. 

« The poor remains of our fleet, which might be ren- 
dered somewhat respectable, are at present in a most 
contemptible situation ; without order, without any shade 
J. of regularity, and almost void of naval stores^ it is badly 

Who commanded the American artillery at the convention of 
Saratoga,. 



iQh MEMOIRS BY 

CHAP, manned and miserably oflScered. Major Stevens prayS 
a reinforcement of artillerists, as his corps is by no means 
capable of manning the different batteries, and he begs 
for field pieces. 

« Several regiments at this post are torn to pieces by 
detachments, as you will observe by the returns: the offi- 
cers earnestly wish to have them called in and incorpo- 
rated, the good effects of which you are fully sensible of. 

" I think yours or some other general's presence im- 
mediately necessary at this post, for be assured the gar- 
rison under the present dominion will in a short time be 

rendered a mere chaos. General P is a worthy good 

tempered member of society, and a man I esteem, but so 
little of the general, that he has no opinion of his own; 
indeed he is one of the most humble characters I ever 
knew; void of that authoritative decision which graces 
even error, he betrays all the timid diffidence of con- 
scious ignorance. Pardon the freedom of my language ; 
I speak to General Gates, but in him I hope I address a 
friend. The garrison increases rapidly : I hope in the 
course of a week to return you four thousand men, and 
am with the utmost respect my dear General's much 
obliged, obedient ajid ready servant, 

« JA. WILKINSON. 
« Hon. Major-general Gates.*' 

« Ticonderoga, May 22J, 177 7. 
« My dear General, 

" The director* has taken so precipitate a flight from 
this place, that he leaves mc scarce a minute to write to 
you. I wish to Heaven, either yourself or General St. 
Cfair was here for a few days. Colonel Kosciusko is 
timidly modest — Baldwin is inclosing the lines on a plan 
of his own — General has arrived, he is a very in- 
efficient officer, though somewhat more determined than 

' . We are now about three thousand strong ; the 

militia P. T. arrive in small regiments ; the spy, through 

* Doctor Totts, director of hospitiUs. 



GENERAL WILKINSON. 165 

the negligence of the guard at the landing place, has es- CHAP, 
caped. I dread the want of provisions more than men. I ^^' 
am at present a little indisposed, and am with the utmost 
respect, your much obliged, obedient and ready servant, 

"JA. WILKINSON. 
« Hon, Major-general Gates.** 



« Ticonderoga, May 26th, ±777. 
« My dear General, 

" I now inclose you a general return of this garrison, 
but cannot tell whether it corresponds with the last, as I 
sent that off in such a hurry as not to reserve a copy. 
The adjutants, generally speaking, are blockheads, and 
two of the brigade majors are totally ignorant of their 
duty, so that this incorrect exhibition is the product of 
three days vexatious labour. Since General 's ar- 
rival on Tuesday last, we have brought all the continen- 
tal troops, except Long's regiment, to this side of the 
lake, and have posted the militia on the mount, brigaded 
under Colonel Long, a genteel, amiable man. The troops 

on this side are formed under Brigadiers and 

P . The stay of the militia is quite discretionary 

with the General, as they are turned out on this emer- 
gency without any limited term of duration, though they 
begin already to complain. You will find in these returns 
a very treacherous proportion of officers, and that several 
are furloughed in the original retiu'n; frauds which your 
or General St. Clair's presence is necessary to correct. 

" Colonel Hay is an active officer, of more judgment 
than any one I know in this garrison. About one hun- 
dred and twenty of the men returned on command, are 
under his direction, and are I believe advantageously em- 
ployed; the residue are under Colonel Baldwin, and on 
board the fleet, where I think economy is much needed; 
one whole company of carpenters are constantly employ- 
ed in forming a kind of friezed abbatis, on the exterior 
of the glacis of the French lines. The works arc precipi- 
tated on the plan laid down by Colonel Baldwin : the re- 




461$ MEMOIRS BY 

doubt at tliose lines goes on finely; it is formed by ceHain 
lines beginning at the east end of the curtain on which 
the three north embrasures are opened, and closing at 
the south sally-port. I believe my details have made 
more invalids than I'eal disease, the complaints of many 
being very trivial ; however, as I have no authority 
to obviate this subterfuge, they will continue to avail 
themselves of it. The muster-master is much wanted ; 
he cannot arrive too soon. The artificers, and a number 
of workmen, are at present without arms, and as there is 
in use and in store a great proportion of bad ones, I 
think there appears an evident necessity of moving the 
armoury to this place immediately. 

« My general is acquainted wit!» the various precau- 
tions preparatory to successful defence; he knows the 
subject to be too complex for the comprehension of men 
of mean abilities, no education, and little experience ; — 
what then must be the fate of this garrison under its pre- 
sent command ? I give you my honour, at this moment, 
there is no disposition of defence made in case of an at- 
tack, or even alarm posts assigned ; I shall endeavour to 
have the latter consideration settled this day. Provi- 
dence yesterday exposed one point of our weakness, by 
ordering a gale of wind, which carried away and broke 
to pieces the boom, bridge, and every appendage thereof, 

<« Please to observe the proportion of officers in Whit- 
comb's corps; I cannot find out tlie establishment on 
which it is formed, and believe no person has before ob- 
tained a return from him. £ inclose you his original, 
with the return of an associate. Captain Lee, a man of 
whom I can gain no satisfaction. I think if the public 
favour is bestowed, it ought to be on men of public bene- 
volence at least. 

" We have intelligence of the enemy's fleet being off 
Cumberland head : perhaps 1 may pei*sonally ascertain 
the truth of this information in a few days. 

<« I shall be proud to receive your commands respect- 
ing the future returns. A scout has this moment arrived 
who was yesterday chased near the Four Brothers, by 



GENERAL WILKINSON. I67 

four of the enemy's boats ; he observed lying at that chap. 
place a schooner, a pettiauger, and six or seven batteaux. *^* 
I suppose they are taking off the wheat and stock which 
we have neglected to secure. To you. Sir, I have spoke 
plainly of men and things, because I thought it my duty, 
but expect, unless it becomes necessary, that my well 
meant candour will m»t involve me in controversy with 
men, whom I should in proper place respect. 
« I have the honour to be, 
« My dear General's 

«< Obliged and ready servant,. 
« JA. WILKINSON. 
•i Moil. Major-general Gates,** 

In these letters the defenceless condition of this im- 
portant fortress is exposed with much simplicity and 
truth, and the causes which led to the abandonment 
of it are obvious ; yet, for the meritorious deed, the 
unfortunate St. Clair suffered the most merciless and 
unmerited persecutions ; notwithstanding the calamity 
was produced by the improvidence and neglect of the 
national councils, and although it is manifest to every 
military man, that the abandonment of the place laid 
the foundation for the capture of General Burgoyne; 
an event which counterbalanced the adversities of the 
main army, produced the French alliance,* and acce- 
lerated the establishment of the national independence, 
— Reader! I conjure you to bear in mind, that whilst 
my humble pen is offering this small tribute to the 
merits and the services of a revolutionary chief; this 
illustrious citizen bending under a load of years, after 
having filled the highest offices of the state, on a mi- 
serable pittance, the effect of local bounty, not bestowed 
by the general government, but by the benevolence of 



• Before ihis event reached Paris, I was assured by Commodore 
Nicholson and the Hon. William Carmichael, who were there, we 
h»d fallen into such disrepute, that the name of American was 
hooted. 



168 MEMOIRS BY 

CHAP, the slate of Pennsylvania, is suffered to drag out life ia 
indigence and obscurity. 

About this period the noble patriotism and generous 
self denial, vvliich had cemented the deliberations, united 
tl»e energies, and guided the views of the Congress, be- 
gan to be affected by personal bias and local preju- 
dices ; and the private animosities which sprung up, 
infected the first assembly of the world with intrigues 
and cabals, similar to those which distinguished a con- 
clave of cardinals in the sixteenth century. On the 25th 
of March, without a reason assigned, Major-general 
Gates, by order of the Congress, superceded Major- 
general Scliuyler, his superior officer, in the command 
of the northern department; and on tlie 22d of May 
following, Major-general Schuyler, without any profess- 
ed motive, was restored to that department. These ca- 
prices were unworthy the national councils, and inju- 
rious to the public interests : in military affairs tliis ver- 
satility in command begets disgust and negligence, damps 
the zeal of the officer, and utterly subverts responsibili- 
ty; and it is in general the offspring of personal animo- 
sity or the intrigues of sinister ambition, of which the 
administration of President Madison furnishes abundant 
proofs. 
General General Schuyler reached Albany the 3d of June, and 
Schuyler addressed General Gates the next day for information 

I'csumcs 

the com- respecting the state of the department, to wliich letter he 
niand. received no answer, but Gen. Gates waited on i)im,and pre- 
sented a letter from the commanding officer at Ticondero- 
ga, and a return of the troops. On the 5th Gen. Schuy- 
ler ordered Gen. St. Clair to repair to Ticondcroga, and 
take the command, who accordingly reached that post on 
the 12th, where he found a small garrison, badly armed, 
worse clad, and without magazines. It is a fact, that 
both Major-general Schuyler and Major-general Gates, 
bad demanded 10,000 continental troops for the defence 
of Ticonderoga; but unfortunately the Congress had 
received information, in the course of tlie spring, 1777, 
which they credited, that a large portion of the army of 



GENERAL WILKINSON. iQ^ 

Canada had been ordered round to New York, to co-ope- chap. 
rate with Sir AVilliam Howe, and tliat no serious opera- ^^• 
tion would be carried against the northern frontier. Un- 
der these impressions, the troops intended for the de- 
fence of Ticonderoga, had been detained on the sea coast, 
and the whole northern department was inipi'ovidently 
;ieglected. 

Among the manifold difficulties* which encompassed General 
General St. Clair, two of the most important were found jiff£uir'* 
insuperable. The enemy from his command of the lake, ties exa- 
and by the hords of Indians with whom he covered his "^'"^ 
front, rendered it impossible to ascertain his force and 
penetrate his designs; and, at the same time, the condi- 
, tion of his magazine of provisions, forbid his calling for 
auxiliary force in any extremity, because the remedy 
would have been worse than the disease; as without it 
we could but be beaten, and with it we must have 
starved. 

When General Gates discovered from his friends in 
Congress, that it was probable he would be superceded 
in command by General Schuyler, he by the express au- 

* Extract of a letter from Major-general St. Clair to his excellency 
John Hancock, president of Congress: 

" Ticonderoga, June 2Sth, 1777. 

" I inclose you a return of our troops at this post, by which you 
will perceive our effective numbers are little more than 2000, a force 
greatly inadequate to its defence ; which should the enemy attack it 
in force, would require at least four times that number : in that two 
thousand are included a number of artificers who are unarmed, and 
many of the soldiers are in the same condition, and the whole in very 
great want of clothing, accoutrements and bayonets. 

" If the militia were called in, they might possibly enable us to keep 
possession, but 1 have not yet ventured on that step on account of our 
low state of provisions, there not being more than 35 days meat for 
the {roops now here, and because of the uncertainty in which we 
were with regard to the enemy's designs. 

*' No army was ever in a more critical situation than we now are; 
and supposing that this motion is only a feint to favour the operations 
of Sir William Howe, which I still suspect it to be, we may and pro- 
bably will be reduced to the greatest distress, the supplies being de- 
rived from such a distance, and the communication so difficult, that 
it is next tp impossible to support it." 
voB. I, Y 



170 MEMOIRS BY 

CHAP, thority of Congress, issued the following order, which 
^^- placed me at the liead of the adjutant general's depart- 
ment in tljc northern army. 

GENERAL ORDERS. 

« Head Q^iiarters, May 2Uh, 1777". 
ft Colonel James Wilkinson is appointed deputy adju- 
lant-^eneral to the army in the northern department of 
America; all orders written or verbal, coming from him, 
are to be considered as the orders of the general in chief 
of that department, and as such arc to be punctually 
and immediately obeyed ; and to this order all brigade 
majors, adjutants and others, are to pay strict attention 
and due obedience." 

« HORATIO GATES, Major Gen,'' 

I liad no suspicion wlicn I received this order, that the 
command of the department was about to be changed, 
nor had I any expectation of receiving this appointment. 
My breast was warmed at that early day with the same 
personal affections, and zeal for the interests of my coun- 
try which still animate it, and the following letter writ- 
ten at the time, will speak for the candour of these de- 
clarations. 

«•' Ticonderogaf May 5ist, 1777. 
»'My dear Genei-al, 

«« Permit me to make you my mpst grateful acknow- 
ledgments for the compliment you have paid me by an 
appointnient little expected, and I fear less merited. The 
duties of the department, master my slender experience, 
and I dread, unless I am honoured with your direction^ 
that your election will not escape the censures of the ma- 
lignant and envious ; but as I am determined never to dis- 
grace my commissionf the conviction of my iTicapacity to 
attain a knowledge of the duty shall, with tjoiir permission^ 
immediately reduce me to my late most agreeable situation. 
I must beg pardon for the incoherent scroll which you 



GENERAL WILKINSON. lyi 

Iai?t received from me ; it was the hurried dictate of a chap. 
breast torn by conflicting passions. ^^• 

« Ten pieces of ordnance have arrived, which will be 
mounted. Major Stephens tells me, in five days; the rest 
are hourly expected : I shall pay strict attention to tlie 
preparation of the carriages. Tlie works arc now pushed 
on B 's unmeaning plan. — For God's sake, let Kos- 
ciusko come back as soon as possible, with proper autho- 
rity. The commissary's department has been as much 
neglected as the quarter-master's, for we could not sub- 
sist the present small garrison longer than ten weeks; in 
this situation what would be the consequence of the ene- 
my's cutting off the communications by Lake George and 
Skeensborough ? — I think, the reduction of the garrison 
without discharging a gun. Being more apprehensive 
of this move than their attacking tlie lines, I have urged 
the necessity of obstructing their passage into the South 
bay, and Colonel Hay has undertaken the business by 
sinking piers, which he says he will be able to complete 
in three weeks. 

«< Whitcomb returned from Split Rock last night, and 
confutes the intelligence transmitted you by General 
— ; he says there is only one schooner in that quar- 
ter of the lake, and she li»s at Otter creek. 

« Itjwas contrary to my opinion, that General 

wrote to you in the manner and at the time he did ; but 
lie complained that the letter was not sufficiently alarm- 
ing, and General was of opinion that we had not 

time to write. — Such irresolution I never saw displayed. 

—What can I do in this situation ? General P has 

written to New England in a most lamentable style, and 
is now reduced to the necessity of sending expresses, to 
contradict his late positive assurances. You know the 
consequence of false alarms, and how this conduct will 
affect the officer's reputation ; however, he did not blindly 
err, as I boldly represented to him the risk and conse- 
quences of the measure, and begged hard that it might 
not be executed. Major Stephens has used all the large 
iron sent by Colonel Lewis, and begs more. I*ray take 



173 MEMOIRS BY 

CHAP, into youi' consideration the fleet j it is now totally use- 
*^" less. The officer who let the spy escape from the block- 
house, has been honourably acquitted by a general court 
martial. But I will not multiply your sufferings by my 
future complaints. 

" I am with the utmost respect, 
" My dear General's obliged, 

<« Obedient and ready servant, 
« JA. WILKINSON. 
« Major-general Gates.^' 

But on the 10th of Jime I received a letter from Gene- 
ral Gates, in which he announced his removal from the 
command, and inclosed my commission, which bore date 
the 6th of June, and was signed by President Hancock. 
I regret that I am not able to place my hands on tbat 
letter, which abounded with assurances of friendship and 
was highly gratifying to me. Fired with indignation at 
the degradation of my favourite general and friend, I im- 
mediately took my pen and answered in the following 
language. 

" Ticonderoga, June lOth, 1777. 

Colonel " My dear General, 

Wiikin- a J j^,^ ^jjjg (jg^y [jononred by your affectionate letter 

son's let- •' •' •' 

ter of of the 7th instant, with the inclosed commission. It wrung 

June 10th, 



to 



General "^<^ heart, and I dropped a tear upon it. 



Gates. <' I really begin to love the New England men, not 

from a display of any virtue or talent hitherto not exhi- 
bited, but for the mortification and dissatisfaction which 
marked their countenances on the late astonishing revo- 
lution, This just tribute was an evidence of their judg- 
ment and gratitude, which could but please a contempla- 
tive mind, zealously interested in your fate and fortunes. 

*« I anxiously expect General St. Clair ; his presence 
will help to alleviate the load which oppresses me. 

<« The perfidy of mankind truly disgusts me with life, 
and if the happiness of an amiable woman was not un- 
lortunately too dependent on my WTetched existence, I 



GENERAL WILKINSON. I73 

should think I had lived long enough, nor would I wish ciiAP. 
more to breathe the common air with ingrates, assassins, '^ • 
and double-faced villains. 

t< It will contribute to my happiness to hear from you 
now and then. — You know my wish to attend you. With 
the liveliest sense of gratitude, 1 beg leave to subscribe 
myself my dear General's affectionate friend, and obliged 
and ready servant, 

« JA. WILKINSON. 
« Hon. Major-general Gates" 

These effusions of affection, however impassioned, will 
not I trust derogate from tlie integrity of my heart, 
which would not have denied its feelings to save my life; 
nor have I learned at threescore, thank God, to barter 
the independence of a free citizen, for the dastardly dis- 
cretion or timid circumspection, by which courtiers ac- 
quire favour, and heartless sycophants explore the route 
to official eminence. 

On the 17th of June Maior-general Schuyler visited p^"^'"?^ 

_, , . Schuyler 

Ticonderoga. He liad not the preceding campaign com- visits 
manded tlie troops in person, and making his head quar- T'conde- 
ters at Albany, his intercourse with them was so circum- June 17. 
scribed, that he was little known ; and although a perfect 
gentleman, as he did not practise the arts of popularity, 
he was far from being a favourite. I was grateful for 
i his marked attentions to me, but I did not feel for him 
the same regard I cherished for General Gates. 

On the 18th the general officers made a critical in- Explana- 
spection of the fortifications, and I was invited to accom- /^gg„^' 
pany tliem. In the course of the walk. General Schuyler General 
, fell behind, and beckoned to me to attend him. As soon andiCofo- 
I as we were alone, he said to mc, " Young gentleman, I nel wiU 
i have a crow to pick with you." <« Pray on what ac- 
I count, Sir?" « Do you recollect a letter you wrote a 
jfew days ago to General Gates?" — I was struck dumb 
I with embarrassment, and he proceeded. *« You have not 
j treated me with great civility in that letter." Resent- 
jment ha^, by this time removed my embarrassment, and 



17* 



MEMOIRS BY 



CHAP. 
IV. 



Colonel 
Wilkin- 
son's opi- 
nion re- 
specting 
the tenure 
of Ticon- 
deroga. 



I demanded, " How, Sir, did you come by my privatcj^ 
letter?" *< Very fairly: your letter, among many others 
addressed to General Gates, reached Albany after he 
had left that place, and not being marked private, I be- 
lieved it to be official^ but," continued he, "although 
J^ou do not flatter me in that letter, I assure you I do 
not condemn you ; on the contrary, I admire warmth and 
affection in young gentlemen of your age, and upon fur- 
ther acquaintance, I hope you may find cause to give me 
a share of the regard you now bear General Gates." I 
was charmed with the issue of an explanation which in 
the commencement had excited my indignation, and the 
liberality of the Greneral could not fail of winning my at- 
tachment. In the course of his examination of the works^ 
General Schuyler asked my opinion of the plan we 
should adopt, in respect to the maintenance of the post : 
I replied, that my age forbade an opinion^ in a case of 
such magnitude. «But I ask it, and I shall know how 
to estimate it," said he. I then recommended the course 
which may be observed in some of my letters, viz. that 
« the whole army, its magazines and attirail, excepting 
ISQO select men, with a few light iron cannon, and two 
month's provisions, should be ordered to Fort George, 
as by this plan we should be enabled to defend the place 
against a feint, and in case of a serious attack, our light 
party could scamper over the hills and join the main 
body." The General observed that this was precisely 
his own opinion, but that without orders from Congress, 
he dare not take on himself the responsibility of a mea- 
sure which would excite a great outcry. 

We were still kept in ignorance of the movements and 
designs of the enemy; ajid a council of war was held on 
the 20th, which adopted the following conclusions. 



Council of General Officers, held at Tkonderoga, on Friday 
the 20th of June, ±777. 

Council of - Present — Major-general Schuyler, Major-general St. 
v.ar. Clair, Brigadier-general Roche de Fermoy, Brigadier- 

general Poor, and Brigadier-general Patterson. 



GENERAL WILKINSON. 175 

General Schuyler requested the council to take into chap. 
cx>nsi(leration the state of this post, with respect to the ^^• 
number of troops necessary for its defence, the disposi- 
tion of the troops and mode of defence, the state of the 
fortifications, and the quantity of provision that may be 
depended upon. 

The council having taken into their most serious con- 
sideration the several matters stated in the first article, 
are clearly and unanimously of opinion: 

1st. — That the number of troops now at this post and 
Mount Independence, which are under 2,500 effective 
rank and file, are greatly inadequate to the defence of 
both posts. 

2d. — That both posts ought, nevertheless, to be main- 
tained as long as possible, consistent with the safety of 
the troops and stores. 

3d. — That if it should become necessary to evacuate 
one or other of the posts, and that it remains in our elec- 
Tion which, that it ought to be the Ticonderoga side. 

•ith. — ^That such cannon and stores as are not imme- 
diately necessary on the Ticonderoga side, be removed 
without delay to Mount Independence. 

5th — That the fortifications and lines on Mount In- 
dependence are very deficient; and that the repairing the 
lold and adding new works, ought to claim immediate at- 
tention; and that the engineers be directed to repair and 
make the necessary fortifications. 

6th. — That the obstructions in the lake, to prevent the 
enemy's naval force from getting into our rear, and 
^liereby cutting off all supplies, or preventing a retreat, 
if such a measure should unhappily become indispensably 
necessary, ought to be completed with all imaginable 
Icspatch. 

7th. — ^That so much remains to be done effectually to 
complete the obstructions, that, with the few troops wo 
lave, there is no great probability it can be done in less 
ban six weeks. 

8tli — That although our forces may be adequate to 
naintain our ground on Mount Independence, yet unless 



176 



MEMOIRS BY 



CHAP. 
IV. 



a sufficient stock of provision can be thrown in before 
the arrival of the enemy, we having now only thirty nine 
day's provisions of meat kind, we think it would be im- 
prudent to expose the army to be made prisoners by the 
enemy J and that, therefore, it is prudent to provide for 
a retreat ; to effectuate which, that all the batteaux now 
at this post he immediately repaired, and as many as can 
be spared out of Lake George be brought hither. 

9th. — That a quantity of provision of the meat kind, 
should, if possible, be immediately forwarded from Al- 
bany or elsewhere. 

10th. — That immediate application be made to his ex- 
cellency General Washington, for a reinforcement to be 
sent on with all possible expedition. 

(Signed) PHILIP SCHUYLER, 

ARTHUR ST. CLAIR, 
ROCHE DE FERMO^ 
ENOCH POOR, 
JOHN PATTERSON. ^| 



Jane 22. 

General 

Schuyler 

retires 

from Ti- 

ronde- 

roffa. 



Tlje temporising indecision and vain projects of the 
council, and the complication and remoteness of the con- 
tingencies on which they placed their reliance, discreditejl 
such men as Generals Schuyler and St. Clair; but tb|i 
secret was that they were governed more by respect £g^ 
public opinion than their own understanding. It was | 
desperate game played for popular applause, without a 
trump in hand, and of course could not succeed; and 
losers were left without the consoling reflection that tU( 
had exercised their best judgment. This determination 
of the council being taken. Major-general Schuyler left 
Ticonderoga, and recrossed Lake George to hurry for- 
ward troops and provisions for the defence of the place 
and my own feelings and opinions at that crisis of oui 
situation, are faithfully pourtrayed in the following lette 
written at the time. 



GENERAL WILKINSON. 177 



« Tkonderoga, H. q. June 25//i, 1777. , 

"i My dear General, 

« I have not as yet, nor shall I in future omit one op- 
portunity of communicating to you every material occur- 
rence in our department ; if my letters therefore should 
not reach you, do not accuse me of negligence or ingra- 
titude, but ascribe this circumstance to that insatiable 
gulf, which has ever swallowed up all intelligence either 
to or from this post. 

*' The enemy by gradual movements, which have been 
duly transmitted to General Schuyler, last evening ar- 
rived at Crown point with some vessels and a party of 
their army, who have encamped on Chimney point. We 
are induced to believe from a morning gun, which was 
repeated down the lake, that their w hole force is at hand, 
and as they have lately taken several prisoners, and the 
neighbouring inhabitants have had free access to this 
camp, I am persuaded they will obtain a true state of our 
weakness, which will indubitably precipitate their opera- 
tions; in which case the post is inevitably lost; for if we 
risk a battle, the inferiority of our numbers (without a 
miracle, which we sinners have no right to expect) will 
subject us to defeat and captivity; and if we retire to 
i. Mount Independence, the scantiness of our provisions will 
[I subject us to reduction by famine, as the enemy, when in 
possession of this side of tlie lake, can easily remove the 
' obstructions up the South bay, and by their fleet cut off 
I our communication from Skeensborough. The militia 
are at our command, but should we call them in, imme- 
f diate starvation is the consequence, as Gen. Schuyler has 
lately assured us that we have no right or reason to expect 
jnore than three hundred barrels of meat in addition, and 
e cannot subsist our present small garrison longer than 
■ven weeks with what is on the ground. Tlie distance 
from whence our supplies are derived, and the dilScuUy 
of transportation, both tend to embarrass us. In this cruel 

VOL. I. Z 



CHAP. 
IV. 



iy§ MEMOIRS BY 

CHAP, situation what can be done? The most laudable measu e 
*^- in my opinion, would be to remove our heavy artillery 
'"•^""^"''^^ and stores, with the convalescents and invalids of the 
army, to Fort George. Being then light and unincum- 
bered, we might, if hard pushed, effect a retreat to that 
post, which would enable us to check the enemy's pro- 
gress : on the contrary, should we attempt to support 
this place in our present deficient situation, we lose aW, 
and leave the country defenceless and exposed — What 
then will there be to obstruct their favourite scheme — a 
junction by the North river? Nothing that I can discern. 
You remember the state of arms I transmitted you on my 
first arrival herej I am sorry to inform you that they 
are not now better in quality, or superior in number. Our 
men are harassed to extreme weakness by fatigue, and 
the strong guards which we are now obliged to establish, 
will in a little time quite break up their spirits and con- 
stitutions. If fortitude, if enterprize, if perseverance or 
temerity could avail, I would not complain; but, in the 
name of Heaven, what can be expected from a naked, 
undisciplined, badly armed, unaccoutred body of men, 
when opposed to a vast superiority of British troops. 

«< What can be done, the great St. Clair will effect; 
but such is the weakness of our numbers, that he cannot 
form any plan of defence. Of the two, I prefer death 
to captivity; but be the event as it will, I shall not dis- 
grace my acquaintance. 

« O that you were here! the fertility of your soul might 
save this important pass. 

« General Schuyler has been here for a few days, but 
is now in Albany. 

*« I am, my dear General, 
« Your much obliged and affectionate serv't> 
« JA. WILKINSON. 
« Major-general Gates." * 

Every stratagem and enterprize was employed by Ge- 
neral St. Clair, to ascertain the force and objects of the 



GENERAL WILKINSON. 



179 



enemy, but without effect ; his movements were covered chap. 
by his fleet, and his Indian scouts were spread through- *^'^- 
out the wilderness which surrounded us. Our reconnoi- ^"^"^"^^"^ 
tr'mg parties were either cut up and captured, or routed 
and driven in. 



18C MEMOIRS BY 



CHAPTER V. 



CHAP. The enemy appears before Ticonderoga. — Advances his rigkl 



\' 



riving^ and a skirmish takes place. — Coolness and caution 
of General St. Clair. — Effects of anxiety and hurry in 
action. — Reflections on the defence of works.— Stratagem 
by which information is obtained from a prisoner. — The 
Enemy shews himself on Mount Defiance) or Sugar hill. 
— Council of war. — Retreat of the army to Castletown.^— 
Rear guard halts at Hubbartown, contrary to orders. 
— Pursuit of the enemy. — Jlffair of Hubbartoxvn, July 
7th. — Reflections thereon. — Loss of the British on that oc- 
casion. — General Burgoijne arrives at Skeensborough. — 
Captures the baggage of the army, and destroys the Jlmc- 
ncan flotilla. — Action between the 9th British regiment 
and Colonel Long^s detachment. — General Reidesel detach- 
ed towards Castletown and Pnltney. — General Phillips 
returns to Ticonderoga. — Testimonials to the character of 
General St. Clair. — General Burgoyne^s despatch to Lord 
George Germain. — Errors of engineers in the early set- 
tlement of America. — General St. Clair joins General 
Schuyler at Fort Edward. — Retiirn of forces binder Ge- 
neral Sclmyler. — Defciency of ammunition^ and means 
resorted to to supply it. — Deplorable condition of officers 
and men, want of clothing, ^'c. — General Burgoyne is- 
sues a proclamation f and General Schuyler a counter- 
proclamation.' — The calumnies against Generals Schuyler 
and St. Clair noticed. — Deputy adjutant-general Wilkin- 
sou's vindication of General St. Clair. — Fortifed camp, 
selected by chief engineer Kosciusko. — Audacious conduct 
of an Indian. — Sudden reduction of the continental and 

militia force by desertion Extracts from General Schuy- 

ler*s letters. — Incursions of the Indians. — General Bur- 
goyne^s arrival at Fort Edxvard. — Gallant conduct of 



GENERAL WILKINSON. ' 181 

Jtlajor Clarkson. — Misconduct of the rear guard on the 
iiarch to Stillwater. — Good conduct of Major Hull. — Co- 
lonel St. Leger's expedition noticed. — Captain Warren\-i 
skirmish with the Indians.— General Schuyler takes a 
position at the confluence of the Mohawk with the Hud- 
son. — General Burgoijne^s difficulties. — Expedition to 
Bennington. — Fatal consequences. — Schuyler and Stark^s 
letters. — Colonel St. Leger invests Fort Schuyler. — Gene- 
ral Herkimer^s affair. — Its effects. — St. Leger^s retreat, 
— His report to General Burgoyne. — Reflections on recent 
events. — Conchisions. — Tlie force under General Gates 
tvould have rendered the same service under General 
Schuyler.— The convention of Saratoga ascribed to Gene- 
ral St. Clair. — Cause of General Schuyler^s want of po- 
pularity. — Party distinctions. — Reflections on the conduct 
of Congress. — Its intemperate resolutions. — General 
Washington declines naming a successor to General 
Schuxjler. — Unanimous and honourable acquittal of Ge- 
neral St. Clair. — Similar acquittal Of General Schuyler. 
— Conduct of the then Congress compared with that of 
President Madison. — The practice of dismissing oncers 
toithoiit trial reprobated. — Few instances of its being re- 
sorted to by General JFashington or Mr. Jefferson, 

Notwithstanding this iincertainty respecting the CHAP, 
intentions of Lieutenant-general Burgoyne, our prepara- 
tions were not relaxed; the defences of the place were 
enlarged and improved by general fatigues, and the ut- 
most industry of men and officers. On the 30th of June First ap- 
the enemy made his first appearance, and the advanced P^^pnce 
corps debarked at a point on the west side of the lake, enemy 
three miles from Ticonderoga and in full view; while ^f^^""^, 
another detachment landed on the east side, directly op- roga. 
posite, and a party of Indians and Canadians thrown for- 
ward towards our lines, fell in witii one of our scouting 
parties, and routed it. On tlic 1st July the whole army 
moved up the lake from Crown point; the British troops 
landing on the western, and the Germans on the eastern 
shore. On the 3d, the right wing, consisting of the Bi'i 



18S MEMOIRS BY 

CHAP, tish line, moved forward and took possession of Mount 
^ • Hope, and also of an eminence about one thousand yards 
Advances *" ^ront of the old French lines, which had been repaired 
his right and improved, and constituted our advanced works. Cap- 
asku'mislj *^^" Fraser and his marksmen, with several hundred In- 
takes dians, preceded this movement of the enemy, and whe- 
^ '^^^' ther intoxicated or deceived by the ground (which being 
perfectly flat and covered with brushwood, concealed our 
lines of defence until close upon them) they charged a 
picket of sixty men, within two hundred yards of a bat- 
tery of eight pieces, forced it to letire with considerable 
loss, killing a man as he entered a sally port, and ad- 
vancing within sixty, eighty and an hundred yards of 
our works, scattered themselves along our front among 
the brushwood, and kept up a brisk fire. Suspecting 
from the weight of the enemy's column as it approached 
-Mount Hope, that they intended an assault, and that 
this party had been sent forward to draw our fire and 
produce disorder, General St. Clair directed the troops 
to sit down on the banquet, with their backs to the 
parapet, as well to cover them from the shot of the 
enemy, as to prevent their throwing away their own 
fire ,• the officers in general marched on their ground in 
rear of the banquet, while Major Dunn, an aid-de-camp 
_ of the General, and myself, leaning on the parapet, kept 
an eye to the movements of the enemy, who continued to 
crawl upon us under cover of the brusliwood : I at length 
observed a light infantry man who had crept within forty 
paces of the ditch, and was loading and firing from a 
stump, behind w hich he had knelt. I stepped to a salient 
angle of the line, and ordered a sergeant to rise and shoot 
him : the order was obeyed, and at the discharge of the 
musket, every man arose, mounted the banquet, and 
without command fired a volley j the artillery followed 
the example, as did many of the oflicers, from the colo- 
nels down to subalterns, and notwithstanding the exer- 
tions of the General, his aids and several other officers, 
three rounds were discharged before they could stop the 
firing j and when the smoke dispersed; the enemy were 



GENERAL WILKINSON. 183 

observed at three hundred yards distance, retreating hel- chap. 
ter skelter. Casting my eyes on the stump where I had ^• 
perceived the infantry man whom I directed to be shot, 
I discovered him lying prostrate on his back, and men- 
tioned the circumstance to General St. Clair, who though 
exceedingly heated by the conduct of the troops, which 
he reprehended in the strongest language, replied to me 
with that mild philanthropy which distinguished his cha- 
racter, « Send out a corporal and a fie of men, and let the 
poor fellow be brought in and buried." — But as the corpo- 
ral approached the supposed dead man, he jumped up, 
clubbed his musket, and exclaimed, « By Jasus, I killed 
the man at the sally-port^ a fair shot." The fellow was 
brought in ; he belonged to the 47th light infantry, and 
was intoxicated and insolent, refusing to give a word of 
information. 

Let the young officer attend to a fact which occurred Reflec- 
on this occasion. Five hundred of the enemy were scat- [|°" j^" 
tered along our front, the most distant not exceeding one fence of 
hundred yards, when a thousand infantry and 8 pieces ''^^^^■ 
of artillery opened their fire upon them; and yet we 
could never learn that we killed a single man, or wound- 
ed more than a lieutenant! ! ! This was the effect of hurry, 
for I observed the infantry to fire at an elevation of 
twenty degrees, and the artillery without direction. From 
those causes, if the enemy had assaulted us at the time, 
he would have succeeded with trifling loss ; and it is in 
this manner works are generally carried ; for hurry ren- 
ders a man blind and impotent, and therefore one cool 
soldier is worth three who are agitated. Assaults would 
seldom or never succeed, if the assailed could be brought 
to reserve their fire, until the assailants reach the coun- 
terscarp, and then to take deliberate aim; unless indeed 
resistance is overwhelmed by numbers, after the manner 
of the monster Suwarrow, at the barbarian and bloody 
scenes of Ismail. 

At this late liour the General was unapprised of the 
strength of the enemy, or their actual designs ; and this 
knowledge was of vital importance to his ultimate mca- 



i^ MEMOIRS BY 

CHAP, sures. To acquire such information as the prisoner might 
^' possess, a Captain Johnson of the artillery fa son of Hi- 
hernia) was metamorphosed into a tory, and thrust into 
the guard room with him : he soon hecarae acquainted 
with his countryman, and with the aid of a hottle of rum 
which Johnson had concealed among his tattered appa- 
rel, he before midnight procured from his companion, 
who happened to be an intelligent old soldier, the number 
and name of every corps under General Burgoyne, with 
an estimate of their strength, afterwards found to be 
pretty accurate. This information removed all doubts 
relative to the force of the enemy, and their movements 
indicated an « investissement." Still General St. Clair 
lacked resolution to give up the place, or in other words, 
to sacrifice his character to the public good : for by se- 
veral manoeuvres of his adversary on the 3d and 4th, he 
was cheered with the hope that General Burgoyne in- 
tended to l)azard an assault, which he was determined to 
await at all events j but on the 5th the enemy, contrary 
The cne- to all expectation, shewed themselves on Mount Defiance, 
my shews j^j^j fi^-gj at a vessel which lay in the strait. After re- 

himseli on ... 

Sugar loaf connoitriiig his position attentively, the General turned 
■ to me, who happened to be alone with him, and observed^ , 

« We must away from this, for our situation has become 

Council a desperate one.*' A council of war was immediately * 

of* war 

convened, consisting of Major-general St. Clair, Briga- 
dier-generals Roche de Fermoy, Poor and Patterson, and , 
Colonel Long, who unanimously decided on an immediate 

evacuation,* which was effected during the night as well 

<i 

* " At a council of general officers, held at Ticonderoga, July Slhi 
1777, present Major-general St. Clair, Brigadier-generals Roche dl 
fermoy, Poor, Patterson, and Colonel commd't Long : 

" General St. Clair represented to the council, that as there isever^ 
reason to believe that the batteries of the enemy are ready to ope< 
upon the Ticonderoga side, and that the camp is very much exposes 
to their fire, and to be enfiladed on all quarters ; and as there is also 
reason to expect an attack upon Ticonderoga and Mount Indepen- 
dence at the same time, in which case neither would draw any sup- 
port from the other; he desired their opinion, whether it would be 
roost proper to remove the tents to the low ground where they would 



GENERAL WILKINSON. 185 

as the hurried preparation would permit, with troops the chap, 
best of whom were but half formed; and but for the de- ^' 
cision and activity of General Burgoyne, we should have 
escaped without the loss of men or baggage. But this 
unfortunate, gallant officer, who looked only to the ho- 
nour of his profession and the interests of his sovereign, 
divided his force without a moment's pause, and pur- 
sued us in every direction of our retreat. 

Our baggage, sick and convalescents, our ordnance, 
hospital and other stores, with a quantity of provisions, 
were despatched by the lake for Skeensborough, under 
the protection of Colonel Long and his regiment, and the 
main body of the troops retired by an unfinished road 
through the wilderness, twenty-four miles, to Hubbar- 

be less exposed, and wait the attack at the Ticonderoga lines— tir 
whether the whole of the troops should be drawn over to Mount In- 
dependence, the more effectually to provide for the defence of that 
post. At the same time the General begged leave to inform them, 
that the whole of our force consisted of 2,089 effectives rank and file, 
including 124 artificers unarmed, besides the corps of artillery, and 
about 900 militia, who have joined us, and cannot stay but a few 
days. 

" The council were unanimously of opinion, that it is impossible 
with our force to defend Ticonderoga and Mount Independence, and 
that the troops, cannon and stores, should be removed this night, if 
possible, to Mount Independence. 

•'2d. — Whether, after the division of the army at Ticonderoga have 
retreated to Mount Independence, we shall be in a situation to de- 
fend that post ; or in case it cannot be defended, if a retreat into tlie 
country will be practicable : 

" The council are unanimously of opinion, that as the enemy have 
already nearly surrounded us, and there remains nothing more to In- 
vest us completely but their occupying the neck of land betwixt the 
lake and the East creek, which is not more than three quarters of a 
mile over, and possessing themselves of the narrows betwixt that and 
Skeensborough, and thereby cutting off all communication with the 
country, a retreat ought to be undertaken as soon as possible, add 
that we shall be very fortunate to effect it. 

(Signed) " ARTHUR ST. CLAIR, 

" ROCHE DE FERMOY, 

" ENOCH POOR, 

"JOHN PATTERSON, 

«• PIERSB LONG." 

vol. I. A a 



186 MEMomS BY 

CHAP, town, where tlie front arrived about one o'clock; here 
we halted for the rear guard and stragglers, until five 
Retreat of **'ch'ck, at which time rercivijig advice of their aj)i>roacli, 
the army by 3Iaj()r Dcarboi'ii,* the Genera] marched for Castle- 
xown^ ^ town, six miles further, which we reached at dusk. A 
party of the enemy had preceded us a few hours ; a skir- 
mish had ensued, and we found an aged citizen killed and 
scalped, and one of tlie British infantry mortally wound- 
ed. Colonel ^yarner, with his corps of about 160 men, 
was left at Hubbartown, with expiess orders from the 
Genei'al to join the rear guard, wiien it got up, and ta 

„ advance within one and an half miles of Castletown, and 

Hear 

guard there to take post for the night; but when Colonel Francis 
H bb^* who commanded the rear guard joined Warner, they con- 
town, con- eluded to dispense with a positive order of the General. 
orSs" and to spend the night at Hubbai'town. 

As soon as General Burgoyne discovered our retreat, 
he put his fleet and army in motion : Brigadier-general 
Fraser with his elite f supported by Major-general Reido- 
sel and a German corps, was detached in j)ursuit of our 
main body, and the General in person pushed after our 
water craft with his armed vessels, having garrisoned 
Ticonderoga, with the 62d regiment, and the German 
regiment of Prince Frederick, and directed the rest of 
his army to follow him by corps, as fast as they could 
be put in motion, without regard to place in the line. 
The wind being favourable, he overtook our flotilla at 
Skeensborough in the afternoon, captured two of our 
armed vessels, and forced us to destroy the others with 
our batteaux, baggage, stores and provisions ; and the 
dctacJiment under Colonel Long then retired up Wood 
' creek to Fort Ann. General Burgoyne took post at 

Skeensborough. 

Brigadier-general Fraser, after a vigorous pursuit, 
encamped several miles in rear of Warner, but renewed 
his march early the next morning, and about 7 o'clock 

* Since secretary of war and major-general, who belonged to the 
rearguard, and had been sent forward to the General to announce it» 
sftuation. 



GENERAL WILKINSON. I87 

i"€ached Hiibbartowii, just as Warner hail paraded his chap. 
' men to follow General St. Clair, who was under arms ^ • 
waitinff las arrival, when the firinir commenced, whicli .a-- r. 

•^ 07 Anuir of 

was confined to small arms, and the platoons were dis- Hubbar- 
tinctly heard. Two militia regiments which were ex- ^'^^^"" 
cceding'ly insubordinate and seditious, had the preceding 
evening taken a diverging path, and encamped thvpc or 
tour miles in our rear. The first thought of the General 
was to support Warner by tliose corps, under the com- 
mand of a Colonel Bellows^ for which purpose his aids- 
de-camp. Majors Dunn,* and Livingston,! were hurried 
off with positive orders, and assurances of support : h,e 
then orilered the troops to be told qff\ and the officers 
posted for action, and he was exhorting them to cou- 
rageous conduct, when I perceived a manifest repugnance 
in the corps to turn about and march upon the enemy ; 
even one of the brigadiers was open in his opposition to 
tlie measure. In the mean time Majors Dunn and Living- 
ston met the militia under Bellows, hurrying away from 
the scene of action to the main body, and finding them 
eriually deaf to commands and intreaties, they pushed 
forward towards the field of battle, which they had near- 
ly reached, when they met our troops flying from the 
enemy, and were informed by a Captain Chadwick, a 
gallant officer who had been engaged, that the conflict 
had terminated, which being warranted by the cessation 
of the fir< , they returned to the General and made re- 
port. 

Colonel Warner was a hardy valiant soldier, but un- 
educated and a stranger to military discipline; his in- 
subordination at Dubbartown exemplifies the danger 
and misfortunes which attend the disobedience of mi- 
litary commands ; for, if he had obeyed the orders 
he received, our corps would have been united, and, as 
the discipline of the enemy could have availed them little 
in a mountainous country covered with wood, we siiould 

• Long since dead. 

t The honourable Brockholsl Livingston, now a judge of the su- 
^erae court of the United States. 



188 MEMOIRS BY 

CHAP, infallibly have dismembered, and probably captured, the 
^- flower of the British army. Such an event v^^ould have 
recovered the drooping popularity of General St. Clair, 
and filled the country with clamorous exultation ; but let 
it be considered with a view to subsequent consequences; 
would it have benefited the cause of the revolution? It may 
at first sight appear paradoxical, but I believe the occur- 
rence to have been fortunate, because, had we been success- 
ful in that instance, the career of General Burgoyne would 
have been arrested, his operations would have been con- 
fined to the borders of the lakes for the campaign, and 
the whole British army saved from the convention of Sa- 
ratoga! Vain, short-sighted and impious man ! how often 
does he complain of the inscrutable ways of God, when 
the heart should overflow with gratitude for his mercy: 

« For good he is, supremely good. 
Nor less when lie denies; 
E'en crosses from his sovereign hand 
Are blessings in disguise." 

In the affair of Hubbartown, the courage of the comba- 
tants was conspicuous, and on both sides they bled freely;* 
that excellent oflicer, the earl of Balcarras, wiio led the. 
British light infantry, and made his «rfe&?/f" in arms on 
that day, afterwards informed me, that at the first fire 
which he received, twenty-one men of the leading platoon 
were knocked dovi^n, and himself shot tlirough the arm ; 
Major Grant, an officer of high reputation, who led the 
grenadiers, being at tiie same time killed. Warner and 
Francis endeavoured to atone for their fault by a manly 
and obstinate resistance, which they maintained for forty 
minutes ; but our troops were under the necessity of 
yielding to numbers,^ and finally gave up the ground : 

• Our loss in this affair was never correctly ascertained, but it did 
not exceed 200 in killed, wounded and missing'; that of the enemy 
was reported at 222. 

t General Burgoyne makes the American force 2,000, and Briga- 
<!ier-gener,il Eraser's only 850 j but he does not in this number in- 



GENERAL WILKINSON. 189 

Francis paid the penalty of his life, but Warner lived to chap. 

participate in General Stark's triumph at Bennington. ^• 

General Burgoyne's anticipation of General St. Clair Ameri- 

at Skeensborough, information of which he received at cans re- 

Castletown, obliged him to change his line of march, and 

by a circuitous route through Pawlet, Manchester and 

Bennington, he struck the Hudson river at Batten-kill, 

and joined General Schuyler at Fort Edward, on the 12th General 

St Clair 
July. The night of the 7tU being extremely dark and joj'ng 

rainy, one of the guards took up and reported to head General 

V ^ A eu ■ T • -^ Schuyler, 

quarters a young man suspected ot being a spy. 1 visit- 
ed the guard, and found the prisoner to be a Lieutenant 
Lyonf of the militia, who had joined us to offer his ser- 
vices as a guide, of whom we stood in great need, being 
strangers to tlie country, which was in general a wilder- 
ness, a town having sometimes barely a cabin or two to 
to distinguish it; even Bennington, the seat of the go- 
vernment of the Hampshire grantees, could not number 
more than a dozen log cabins, which were however sur- 
rounded by a considerable tract of improved ground. 
Lieutenant Lyon, an active, ardent young man, was ex- 
tremely zealous, and accompanied us as long as his ser- 
vices were useful : he had been stationed the preceding 
campaign, with a party of militia, at Otter creek, in a 
subordinate capacity; the post was evacuated without 
orders, and Lieutenant Lyon has been censured for that 

elude General Reidesel and the Germans which he led, amounting to 
1500, of whom General Burgoyne says, "the Germans pressed for a 
share in the glory, and they arrived m time to obtain it." — State of the 
Expedition from Canada, Appendix, p. xxxiii. The number of th& 
Germans employed on this detachment was three battalions, (see the 
Memoirs of General Reidesel, published in the German language at 
Berlin in 1800,) whereas the force of the Americans consisted of 
Warner's regiment, which eight days before did not exceed 173 sick 
and well, and the rear guard under Francis, which were detailed at 
310 on the evening of the 5th July; therefore, allowing every man to 
have been present, and adding thereto 117 stragglers, the whole num. 
her would not exceed 600, which was in fact more than we had on 
the ground. 

t Since Mr, Matthew Lyon of Congress. 



190 



MEMOIRS BY 



CHAP. 

V. 



Action 
between 
4he 9th 
Eritish 
regt. and 
Colonel 
liong's 
detach- 
ment. 



transaction, iilthoui^h lie opposed the measure, ami on au 
investigation was acquitted of blame. 

The corps which accompanied General Bur^oyne t» 
Skecnsborough, were spread out to keep up and increase 
the panic produced by the loss of Ticonderoga; tlie 9th 
regiment, under Lieutenant-colonel Hill, was sent in 
pursuit of Colonel Long and his detachment, consisting 
of the invalids and convalescents, with his regiment, 
about 150 strong, making in the whole four or five hun- 
dred men. Colonel Long, finding himself pressed, ad- 
vanced and met Lieutenant-colonel Hill, and an action 
ensued, in which the British officer claimed tlic victory; 
but it is a fact, that the 9th regiment had been beaten, 
and was retreating, and but for the entire failure of Co- 
lonel Long's ammunition, the Lieutenant-colonel must 
have been made prisoner, as well as Captain Montgo^ 
merj of that regiment, who was wounded and left on the 
field, when, as General Burgoyne tells us, " Colonel Hill 
found it necessary to change Jiis posilion in the heat of ac- 
tion;" but in truth, when his cor[)S was obliged to re- 
treat, and Colonel Long, for want of ammunition, could 
not pursue him. 

A few days after these events, General Burgoyne re- 
called Frascr's corps and tlic 9th regiment to Skeensbo- 
rough, where he established his head quarters, detach- 
ed Reidesel with a German corps towards Castletown 
and Pultney, and sent back General Phillips to Ticonde- 
roga to press forward his water and land transport, with 
his artillery, provisions and munitions of war of every 
species by way of Fort George: the troops under his 
own immediate orders, were occupied in clearing AVood 
creek, and repairing the road to St. Ann, and toward 
Fort Edward; where General Schuyler had taken post, 
and was making the most active exertions to collect and 
embody a force to resist the progress of the enemy. 

Although the honourable, impartial and intelligent part 
of the world, have long since done justice to the military 
character and patriotism of General St. Clair, in relation 
to his conduct in the abandonment of Ticonderoga ; I 



GENERAL WILKINSON. 19t 

must be permitted to record a few testlraonials to shew, chap. 
that if he was at all culpable, it was for his temerity in ^" 
attempting to bold the place as long as he did. The ge- 
neral rettini [J] of the 28th June, which, before his eva- 
cuation of tlie post, will shew that his continental troops 
fit foi* action were short of 3,000, and tliat the only rein- 
forcement he received afterwards was 900 militia, on the 
5th July, under no specific obligation for service, and it 
will appear from General Burgoyne's defence before the 
House of Commons, p. IT, tliat the force of the enemy 
was 7,200 troops of the line, independent of his Indians, 
irregulars and seamen, and it will also appear in these 
sheets, that tiie American troops were badly armed, mi- 
serably clothed, and short of provison ; that they were 
necessarily divided between Ticonderoga and Mount In- 
dependence, which places were separated by Lake Cham- 
plain; and that his whole force was insufficient for the 
defence of either, ten thousand men having been demand- 
ed for that service by both General Schuyler and General 
Gates ;* that on the night of tiie *th July, the enemy had 
taken possession of Mount Defiance or the Sugar-loaf hill, 
whicli General St. Clair had not force to occupy, from 
whence both Mount Independence and Ticonderoga were 
effectually commanded, and that the enemy's batteries 
woidd have been opened upon him the next day, whicli 
last facts are sustained by General Burgoyne's despatch 
to Lord George Germain, dated Skeensborough, July 11, 
irrr, of which the following is an extract: 

**July 5th. — Lieutenant Twiss, the commanding engi- GenevAl 
neer, was ordered to reconnoitre Sugar hill, on the south ^yypg's 
side of the communication from Lake George into Lake tlespatcR. 
ahamplahif which had been possessed in the night by a party 
(^infantry; it appeared at first to be a very advantageous 
post, and it is now known that the enemy had a council 
some time ago about the expediency of holding it : but the 
idea was rejected upon the supposition thai it was imjwss'- 

* See th6ir testimony on the trial of General St. Clair. 



19^ MEMOIRS BY 

CHAP, ble for a corps to be established there in forte. Lieutenant 

^' Twiss reported this hill to have the entire command of the 

works and hiildings both of Ticonderoga and Mount Inde- 

pendence, at the distance of about 1400 yards from the 

former and 1500 from the lattery that the ground might be 
levelled so as to receive cannon, and that the road to convey 
Hiem, although difficnlt, might be made practicable in twenty^ 

four hours : this hill also commanded in reverse the bridge 
of communication — saw the exact situation of the vessels, 
nor could the enemy during the day make any further move- 
ment or preparation without being discovered, and even 

HAVING THEIR NUMBERS COUNTED." 

Yet from the indolence natural to man, and his dispo- 
sition to trust to appearances, this height had been pre- 
viously neglected by the French, British, and American 
commanders; and a similar error took place at Fort Du- 
quesne and Fort Pitt, both built on the same site, yet ab- 
solutely commanded on three sides; indeed such appears 
to have been the common error of the engineers in the 
early settlements of this continent, from Canada to Flo- 
rida, from Michilimackinac to Natchez, and hence the 
principle, that a military commander should determine, 
never to trust to appearances or the judgment of any 
man, wiiere it is practicable for him to examine and judge 
for himself. 

I regret that the limits of these memoirs are too cir- 
cumscribed, for the scrutiny of the numerous military ope- 
rations which have fallen under my observation, and the 
exposition of the grounds and motives on wliich they have 
been condemned and vindicated. Pressed by circumstances, 
whatever may be my inclinations, tlie pages to which ray 
\York is necessarily confined, would not be sufficient for 
this piu'pose alone; but as I have rendered justice to the 
discernment and decision of General Burgoyne, I may 
hereafter indulge a few brief reflections on what I have 
considered his errors. 

General St. Clair found General Schuyler at Fort 
Edward, in deplorable circumstances, but with a firm 



GENERAL WILKINSON. 

mind and unshaken spirits; he was actually deficient in 
the essential article of ammunition,* and lead was taken 
from the windows and shops of the inhabitants of Alba- 
ny;! our powder lay at Fort George, but this the enemy 
permitted us to remove, toi^ether with our artillery, pro- 
visions and munitions of war,' General Schuyler's whole 
force, before he was joined by General St. Clair, con- 
sisted of about six hundred continental troops, and a 
smaller number of militia, and this five days after Gene- 

* v3 Return of Ordnance and Stores in the Laboratori/, tahin at Fori 
Edward, July 15th, 1777. 



1) ■« 

3 C. 
9! - 

^ ! 
5 


X 

o 

.a 
ii 
U 

;; 
y 


Boxes contam'g 
3130 wt. of 
Mcisket ball. 


'3 

o 
m 

C 

p 


C 


Skeins of mus- 
ket cartridge 
paper. 


> c 

v 
P- 

X 


Reams of mus- 
ket cartridge 
paper. 


c 
a 

c 

as 


40 


31 


276 


3500 


94 


22 


10 


9 



"Sir. — The above return is an exact one of the ordnance stores at 
this place. I have sent you per the bearer two reams of writing' 
paper. 

" I am, Sir, with i-espect, 

•' Your obedient humble servant, 
(Signed) " JASP. MAUD. GIDLEY, Conductor. 

" To Colonel Wilkimon, D. A. G." 

\ Extract of a letter to Colonel Leviis,* Deputy Q. M. General, AlbamiK 

" The citizens of Albany only can supply our immediate exigent 
cies J recourse must therefore be had to the committee, begging theii; 
interposition to collect such lead as is in the citj' : the lead frotn win* 
dows and weights may perhaps afford a supply for the present. As 
soon as it is collected, Mr. Rensselaer will have it made into ball, and 
send it up without a moment's delay. Should a wagon be sent off 
with one box, as soon as it is ready it must be pushed off; also all 
the buck shot. 

" By order of Major-general Schuyler. 

" J. LANSING, JvN.f Secretary:^ 



193 

CHAP. 
V 



• Since governor of the state of New York»and Ute Major-g:cner«J 
in the army U.S. 
f Since chancellor of the state of New York. 
vot. ft B b 



194 MEMOIRS BY 

CHAP, ral Biirgoyiie had reached Skeensborougli, within a day's 
^' forced march of him, with five thousand veteran troops 
fresh and flushed with success. But General St. Clair 
led to his assistance two thousand continental troops* of 
the best ai)}iOititment; Brigadier-general Nixon joined 
him the same day with about six hundred effectives, and 
the militia, encouraged by these appearances and roused 
by the importunities of General Schuyler, turned out 
daily fi-^mi the adjacent county of Albany, and on the 
£Oth our returns [B] exhibited a respectable force; but we 
were wretchedly found in all things, as General Schuy- 
ler's lettersf to General Washington, of the 10th and 14th 

* The men were in a wretched condition from want of clothing, 
and the officers liad lost every thing ; the General had on all he had 
saved, and I was in a similar predicament. 

X Extract of letters from J\Iajor-^enei'al Schmjier to Gen. Washington. 

" Fort Ed-ward, July 10th, 1777. 
" I am this moment favoured with your excellency's Iptter of the 
6th instant. You will before this have received my several letters, 
advising your excellency of the evacuation of Ticonderoga, and the 
distressed situation we are in. We are by no means now in a better ; 
rather worse, as deseriion is frequent. General Nixon's brigade is 
not yet come up, nor do I get a reinforcement of the militia. General 
St. Clair, from whom 1 lieard for the first time about ten o'clock this 
morning (copy of his letter I enclose) is about fifty miles east of me ; 
if he should go to Bennington, as I fear he will be obliged to do, he 
will be still farther oft", and the more he gets into the inhabited part 
of the comitry the greater will the deseriion from the army be, whlcU 
is already much, very mucii diminished by numbers going ofT. I aro 
very apprehensive General St. Clair will not join me with more thanj 
one thousand men. Gen. Nixon's corps, I am informed, is under that.l 
Thus with less than tliree thousand continental troops, and not quite 
one thousand militia, I am to face a powerful enemy from the north, 
flushed with success; and pressed at the same time from the west by 
a body which, from repeated information (copies whereof I have not 
lime to send), is respectable, and already at Oswego." 

" Fort Edward, July 14rA, 1777- 
"Colonel Warner, with the remains of his regiment, I have order.s 
ed to remain on what are commonly called the New Hampshire grants, 
together with the militia from that part of this state ; he has direc- 
tions to drive off all the cattle and carriages, but whether he will be 



GENERAL WILKINSON. 195 

July set forth. We re-occupied Fort Ann on the 13th, GHAP. 
and employed every exertion on the portage from Fort ^ " 
George, to remove the puhlic property from that post ^ 
in tlie mean time, the general officers reconnoitred the 
neighbourhood of Fort Edward, for a strong defensive 
position, and exerted all their faculties to supply the 
wants of the troops and to reanimate the country. 

Lieutenant-general Burgoyne, on reaching Skecnsbo- fiener^l 
rough, had issued a proclamation, summoning the inha- jsgufsl"^ 
bitants of the Hampshire grants (now Vermont) to meet procia- 
Colonel Skeene at Castletown, for the purpose of making General 
their submission. To counteract the effect of this sum- Schuyler 
inons. General Schuyler issued a counter-proclamation,* prodama. 
to which I refer the reader. ^'o"- 

able to effect it Is a doubt, as 1 am informed a very great proportion of 
the inhabitants are taking protections frovn General Burgoyne, as most of 
those in this quarter are also luilling to do. 

"Desertion prevails, and disease gains ground; nor is it to be won- 
dered at, for we have neither tents, houses, barns, boards or any shel- 
ter except a little brush ; every rain that falls, and we have it in great 
abundance almost every day, wets the men to the skin. We are be- 
sides in great want of every kind of necessaries, provision excepted. 
Camp kettles we have so few, that we cannot afford one to twenty 
men." 

* " By Philip Schuyler, esq. Major-general in the army of the United 
States of America, and commander in chief of the northern de- 
partment, to the inhabitants of Castletown, of Hubbartovvn, Rut- 
land, Tinmouih, Paulett, Wells, Crenvi lie, with the neighbour- 
ing districts bordering on White creek, Camden, Cambridge, &c. 

" WntHEAS Lieutenant-general Burgoyne, commanding an army of 
British troops, did by a written paper by him subscribed, bearing 
date at Skeensborough house on the 10th day of July instant, require 
you to send from your several townships deputations consisting often 
persons or more from each township, to meet Colonel Skeene at Cas- 
tletown, on Wednesday, July 15, at 10 in the morning, for sundry pur- 
poses in said paper mentioned, and that you were not to fail in paying 
obedience thereto, under pain of military execution : — 

" Whatever, my countrymen, may be the ostensible reasons for such 
a meeting, it is evidently intended by the enemy then to prevail on 
you, by threats and promises, to forsake the cause of your injured 
country; to assist them In forcing slavery on the United States of 



196 MEMOIRS BY 

CHAP. But whilst these patriotic, honourable men* were thus 
^* deliberating and acting for the safety of the country, the 
malignant passions of the human heart were put in mo- 
tion, to depreciate their worth, to impair their influence, 
and destroy their utility. These perverse, uncharitable 

America; and, under the specious pretext of affording you protec- 
tion, to bring on you that misery, which their promises of protection 
drew on the deluded inhabitants of New Jersey who were weak 
enough to confide in them, but who soon experienced their fallacy, 
by being treated, indiscriminately with those virtuous citizens who 
came forth in defence of their country, with the most wanton barba- 
rity, and such as hath not hitherto disgraced barbarians. They cruelly 
butchered, without distinction of age or sex ; ravished children from 
ten to women of eighty years of age; they burnt, pillaged and de- 
stroyed whatever came into their power, nor did those edifices dedi- 
cated to the worship of Almighty God, escape their sacrilegious fury. 
Such were the deeds, sucli they were incontestibly proved to be, 
which have marked the British arms with the most indelible stains. — 
But they having, by the blessing of Divine Providence on our arms, 
been obliged totally to abandon that state, they left those that were 
weak or wicked enough to take protection under them, to bemoan 
their credulity, and to cast themselves on the mercy of their injured 
countrymen. Such will be your fate, if you lend a willing ear to their 
promises, which I trust none of you will do ; but lest any of you should 
so far forget the duty you owe to your country as to join with, or in 
any manner of way assist or give comfort to, or hold correspondence 
with, or take protection from the enemy — be it known to each and 
every of you the inhabitants of said townships, or any other the inha- 
bitants of the United States, that you will be considered and dealt 
with as traitors to said staies, and that the laws thereof will be put 
in execution against any person so offending with the utmost rigour. 
And I do hereby strictly enjoin and command all officers, civil and 
military, to apprehend or cause to be apprehended, all such offen- 
ders : and I do further strictly enjoin and command such of the mili- 
tia of said townships, as have not yet marched, to do so without de- 
lay* to join the army under my command, or some detachment 
thereof. 

" Given under my hand at head quarters, Fort Edward, July 13th, 
1777. 

" PHILIP SCHUYLER. 
** By the General's command, 

" J. B. LIVINGSTON, Aid-de-camp:* 

* The following testimonial of candour and magnanimity, may ap- 
pear romantic in these selfish days ; yet being no fiction, it is offered 



I 



GENERAL WILKINSON. I97 

dispositions of the human breast originate with the Devil, ch\p. 
and under the impulses of avarice and a passion for '^• 

to the meditation of those, who having' founded rank on intrigue, 
falsehood and perfidy, are now ready to assassinate for pre-eminence. 
*' Sir, "Moses's Creek, July 25th, 1T77- 

"General Schuyler was good enough to read to me part of a letter 
he received last night from you. I cannot recollect that any of my 
officers ever asked my reasons for leaving Ticonceroga ; but as I 
Lave found the measure much decried, 1 have often expressed myself 
in this manner: "That as to myself I was perfectly easy ; I was con- 
scious of the uprightness and propriety of my conduct, and despised 
the vague censure of an uninformed populace;" but had no allusion 
to an order from General Schuyler for my justification because no 
sucli order existed. 

" The calumny thrown on General Schuyler, on account of that mat- 
ter, has given me great uneasiness. I assure you, Sir, there never 
was any thing more cruel and unjust; for he knew nothing of the 
matter until it was over, more than you did at Kingston. It was done 
in consequence of a consultation with the other general officers, with- 
out the possibility of General Schuyler's concurrence ; and iiad the 
opinion of that council been contrary to what it was, it would never- 
theless have taken place, because I knew it to be impossible to defend 
the post with our numbers. 

" In my letter to Congress from Fort Edward, in which I gave theia 
an account of the retreat, is this paragraph : — 'li was my orii^inal dc. 
sign to retreat to this place, that I might be betwixt General Bur- 
goyne and the inhabitants, and that the militia might have something 
in this quarter to collect to. It is now efiected, and the militia are 
coming in, so that I have the most sanguine hopes that the progress 
of the enemy will be checked, and 1 may have the satisfaction to ex- 
perience thit allhou^^h J have lost a post I have eventually saved a state.'' 

" ^yhethe^ my conjecture is right or not, is uncertain, but had our 
army been made prisoners, which it certainly would have been, the 
state of New York would have been much more e\posed at present. 

'* I proposed to General Schuyler, on my arrival at Fort Edward, 
to have sent a note to the printer, to assure the people, he had no 
part in abandoning what they considered their strong holds ; he 
thought it was not so proper at that time, but It is no more 'han what 
I owe to truth and to him to declare, that he was totally unacquaint- 
ed with the matter; and I should be very glad that this letter or any 
part of it you may think proper to communicate, may convince tlie 
unbelieving. Simple unbelief is easily and soon convinced, but wheu 
malice or envy occasions it, it is needless to attempt conviction. 
" I am. Sir, 

** Your Tcry humble and ob't serv't. 
" AB 1 HUIt ST, CL.\IB, 
*• The Hwt. John Jay, Kingston.** 



198 MEMOIRS BY 

CHAP, oflicc, appear to be gaining ground in the American com- 
y^^^ly^ munity; they spring out of partial interests, envy, and 
invidious feelings, and are cherished by intrigue and am- 
bition; to repress them, they must be rendered not only 
unfashionable, but abhorrent to all minds and hearts, and 
to effect these purposes, under the government of these 
states, we must appeal to the source of all good and all evil 
in politics — the people. Let them elect for their execu- 
tive magistrates, men unbiassed by party prejudice or 
factious influence, above sordid interests and sinister am- 
bition, with public good for their object and public vir- 
tue for their guide: and under such auspices the Ameri- 
can community may be restored to its ancient sympathy, 
integrity, good will, and good humour. 

The calumnies daily invented and industriously circu- 
lated against Generals Schuyler and St. Clair, exceeded 
all precedent, and stood unrivalled until the flood-gates 
of slander were opened against myself: it was proclaim- 
ed that they were traitors to tlie country, and acted in 
concert with the enemy, and the ignorant and the credu- 
fous were led to believe that they had received an im- 
mense treasure « not in Mexican gold 'packed on mules,^' 
but in silver balls, fired by Burgoyne into St. Clair's 
tamp, and by his order picked up and transmitted to 
Schuyler at Fort George!!! Extravagant as was this 
tale, it was implicitly believedf and several persons ques- 
tioned mc with much gravity as to the fact! But those 
gentlemen, supported by conscious rectitude, looked 
down with pity on the delusions of their countrymen, in- 
vited an investigation of their conduct, and persevered 
in the faithful discharge of their duty. 

The relation in which I stood to General St. Clair, a 
conviction of tiic injuries heaped on him, and a natural 
inclination to share the misfortunes of those I love, de- 
termined me to address the following letter to a Boston 
editor, I believe Edes or Gill, with the intention of check- 
ing the current of slander, or to divert a portion of it to 
myself; the motives and the sentiment of this appeal 



GENERAL WILKINSON. 199 

gave it popularity — it was reprinted in the Pennsylvania chap. 
Packet, and produced the desired effect.* ^• 

" Moses's Creek, U. Q. July 28ih, 1777. 
" Sir, 

" It is with astonishment and concern, that I observe in your last 
papers, a vein of prejudice against General St. Clair, incurred by his 
retreating- from Ticonderoga, equally impolitic, ungenerous and in- 
human; for It is certainly impolitic to depreciate the influence of an. 
officer high in command — it is truly ungenerous to put the worst con- 
struction on every incident attending the retreat — and it is inhuman 
to murder a man's reputation without giving him an opportunity of 
vindication. 

" If General St. Clair has transgressed, he will surely answer for it 
at a proper tribunal. Do not then prejudge him, or disgrace your 
paper with the malicious inuendoes of every envious taliiative puppy. 
Be charitable enough to suspend your opinion for a little time, and a 
scrutiny of his conduct, which General St. Clair has already claimed, 
will satisfy you and the public. 

" Vour correspondent from Manchester (it pairs me to expose &n 
officer) furnishes you with a gross misrepresentation; for be assured 
that I myself ordered his regiment to strike their tents one full hour 
before a man moved from Ticonderoga, though it is equally true, I 
could not find the Colonel. 1 suppose instead of attending the embar- 
kation of the stores, he was "packing up.^' I am obliged too to inva- 
lidate tiie authority of your gentleman of capacity and character, who 
" had tlie first opportunity of knowing there were upwards of four 
thousand effectives in the garrison," since the returns of the army are 
made to me, and I declare to God and the world that there were, ex- 
clusive of about seven or eight hundred militia who had just arrived, 
only two thousand and eighty-four men for duty, " believe it who will." 
'* You observe that " the greatest number of the enemy, allowing- 
the accounts of tliose whose business it is to make it as large as ap- 
pearances would allow, could not exceed 6000; it was in all probabili- 
ty sliort of that number." — The malice of this suggestion time will 
^'vmce. I wish we may not find the enemy one thousand stronger. — 
The fifty malicious questions which follow this observation, are loo 
pitiful to be answered. 

" I join with you in thinking there ought to be an inquiry after the 
arms and clothes you mention ; for they really never reached Ticonde- 
roga; though your interrogations on that head are improperly direct- 
ed and maliciously pointed, 

" Believe me, Sir, if virtue or justice has existence, the man who 
stands condemned for retreating from Tlconderoga, will ere long 
be thanked for the salvation of three thousand men, who, instead of 
being in captivity, are now opposing our enemy. 

" I am, Sir, your obedient servant, 

" JA, WILKINSON, Dep Adjt, Gen." 



200 MEMOIRS BY 

CHAP. The ill-fated Thaddeus Kosciusko was at that time our 
^ chief engineer, and for months had been the companion 
Fortified ^^ '^^ blanket : he selected a position for a fortified camp 
camp se- about four miles below Fort Edward, at Moses's creek, 
Koscius?^ where the waters of tiic Hudson river are separated by 
to. an island. On the 22d we railed in our outposts, and re- 

tired to that position, where it was proposed to await 
the approach of the enemy. During this day's march an 
Indian shot and scalped an inhabitant, who was removing 
his family out of the way of the enemy, between the left 
flank guard and the column : he was seen and pursued, 
but made his escape, and the audacity of the act pro- 
duced a general sensation : the troops were now orga- 
nised into divisions, and occupied the opposite sides of 
the river, the right under Major-general St. Clair, the 
left under Major-general Arnold, who had recently joined 
lis; and ground was broken on the island for a battery 
to command the pass : the position had been selected be- 
cause the approximation of the hills to the river, formed 
a defile susceptible of defence against a superior force. 

But about this time the slanders to which I have al- 
luded, and which were unfortunately patronized by fac- 
tious men, who had even then found their way into 
Congress, produced a very general defection among the 
troops; a frightful desertion ensued, and on the 24.th in 
the short space of five days, our continental force was 
reduced to less than 3000, and our militia to about 1300 
men, and these subject to no effectual restraint; of the 
tbrmer, the greatest part were badly armed, and botli 
men and officers half naked, sickly, and destitute of com- 
forts. In this state of things, the hostile Indians were 
let loose by the British commander, and penetrated the 
frontier settlements, committing murders and .spreading 
terror over the country. Our troops, who were all le- 
vies of the preceding winter, instead of recovering confi- 
dence, lost spirit; and the panic became more general 
and impressive than ever. General Schuyler's corres- 
pondence at this period, will best explain the difficulties 
by which he was surrounded, and the patriot zeal and 



GENERAL WILKINSON. 301 

manly resolution witli which he met them.* We appeared CHAP, 
to be approaching another crisis, but there was nothing ^ 

• Extract of a letter from General Sdntyler to the Cotmcil of Safety of 
JSTev) York, dated Fori Ed-ward, July 2Ut, 1777. 

"The inhabitants of Tryon county, as yoi( will have perceived by 
copies of some letters which I have had the honour to transmit jou, 
are already too much inclined to lay down their arms, and take ivhat 
terms the enemy may please to afford them. Half of the militia of this 
county, and the neighbouring' state of Massachusetts, we have been 
under the necessity of dismissing-, lest the whole should go ; and I 
believe what we have left will only remain a few days. The continental 
troops I have in this quarter, are under three thousand, and the ene- i , 

my increasing with tories, who daily join them in very considerable 
numbers.'' 

From the Same to the Same— dated JMoses's Creek, 4 miles belorj Fort 
Ed-ward, July 24/ A, 1777. 

" We have not now above thirteen hundred militia on the ground. 
I wish we had the most distant prospect to detain one-half of those 
above five or six da}s. Our continental force is between twenty- 
seven and twenty-eight hundred. With this small body we have to 
encounter a much more numerous body of the enemy, well-appointed, 
flushed with success, and daily increasing by the acquisition of the 
tories. Happy I should still be in some degree, if I could close the 
melancholy tale here ; but every letter I receive from the county of 
Tryon advises me, that the inhabitants of it will lay down their arms 
unless I support them with continental troops. From what 1 have 
said, you will see the impossibility of my complying with their re- 
quest. The district of Scohary has also pointedly intimated, that 
unless continental troops are sent them, they will also submit to the 
enemy." 

Extract of a letter from the Same to his excellency General Washington — 
dated Saratoga, July 28th, 1777- 

" I believe your excellency has spared me all the troops you prudently 
coTtld; but we are still too weak in this quarter, especially as sick- 
ness decreases us with great rapidity. Our men living entirely upon 
fresh meat occasions much disease. Salt meat we have none of, nor 
is any to be got in this quarter; if it can be spared from any post be- 
low 1 wish a quantity of it may be ordered up." 

Extract of a letter from the Same to Major-general Heath — dated Sara- 
toga, July 28th, 1777. 
" Every effort of the enemy would be in vain, if our exertions 
equalled our abilities, if our virtue was not sinking under that in'fa- 
VOL. I. C C 



202 ' MEMOIRS BY 

CHAP, in the prospect to appal any person, who witnessed the 
scenes which liail passed in the Jerseys, six and eight 
montlis before. 

Under the circumstances of the moment, however, it 
was deemed expedient to retire from Moses's creek, be- 
cause it would carry us nearer to our resources, and re- 
move us beyond striliing* distance from the enemy. The 
camp was struck on the 30th, but previously to ti>e 
march, 160 men had been detached from the left wing to 
destroy a bridge a mile or two in the rear. General 

mous venality which pervades throughout, and threatens us witli 
ruin. America cannot be subdued by a foreign force, but her own 
corruption may bring on the fatal catastrophe." 

Extract of a Idler from the Same to the Committee of Albany — dated 
Head Quarters, Moses's Creek, July 28th, 1777. 

"I wisli people to consider that we have had a larger body of the 
enemy on this side of Lake George, when Fort William Henry wrn- 
taken ;* that the British troops were on the point of retiring fron> 
Fort Edward; and that many concluded the country was lost. A 
little reflection convinced them, that the danger was not so great as 
they first imagined, and they resumed their spirits. I hope they will 
do so now. I wish them to consider, that if General Burgoyne should 
even get as fixv down as Half-moon, that he will run himself into th.(* 
greatest danger, and that in all probability his whole army will be 
destroyed. It appears most evident to me, that if we exert ourselves 
all will go well. The troops under my command are in good spirits, 
and the militia also. 

"Is it becoming rational beings, when a misfortune has happeneu 
to them, to despond and not to counteract the evil? Surely not; and 
if the militia would do their duty, we should soon make the enemy 
repent their ever having come into the country, and retreat with infi. 
nitely more loss than we have experienced; but if the militia will sit 
still, folding their arms, and not make use of those exertions which 
God has put in their power to make use of for their own defence, they 
certainly will become the victims of an enemy, whose very mercies 
are cruelty. How, Sir, can you think that I can spare men, when I 
have applied to you for men? Exert yourselves! shew that you are 
men, and you will find men in numbers, and your enemies will 
vanish." 



By General Montcalm, in 1757. 



GENERAL WILKINSON. g03 

IJiirgoyne reached Fort Edward the day .before, and chap. 
his Indians were on the alert ^ Ihey attacked the de- ^ 
tachment on its return, after destroying the bridge, General 
and sucli was tlie consternation which seized on our men, Buigoync 
that they retreated precipitately, suffering thirty or forty at foH; 
Indians to hang on their right flank, and to harass them Edward. 
up to the verge of their late camp, in the face of the divi- 
sion under arms. In this dastardly flight, the Indians 
threw away their fire at long shot, and wounded a few 
persons only, among them Major Matt. Clarkson,* aid- 
de-camp to General Arnold, who exposeed himself gal- 
lantly in attempting to rally the fugitives and bring them 
to action ,• a ball passed through the muscular integu- 
ments of his throat, it was believed the trachea was 
wounded, and I remember his youthful associates with 
sorrow anticipated his death, but contrary to expectation 
he soon recovered. 

The army reached Saratoga without other incident, 
than the loss of some stragglers by the Indians, and on 
the 2d of August continued its march to Stillwater. We 
had this day another evidence of the panic which pre- 
vailed among the troops. As the rear guard of one hun- 
dred men, was marching from its post to join the main 
body, it was fired upon by a small party of Indians, and 
took to flight in open ground : attracted by the firing I 
rode up, and was a spectator of the scene j the guard was 
commanded by Major Hull,f who on horseback was 
making the most animated exertions to rally his men, 
which he at length effected, and in turn drove the enemy 
with great gallantry. 

General Schuyler reached Stillwater on the 3d, and 
began to intrench his camp on the 4th; but had made 
little progress, wiien he received advice of Colonel St. Expedl- 
Leger's arrival before Fort Schuyler, by the way of Os- ll°," °^. 
wego. This expedition had been concerted in England, St.Legcr 
upon the general plan of the campaign, to effect a diver- 

* General Clarkson of New York. 
t Since an unfortunate general. 



304 MEMOIRS BY 

CHAP, sion in favour'of the principal operation, and eventually 
^ to form a junction with General Burgoyne at Albany. It 
consisted of 550 troops of the line, and Sir John John- 
son's provincials, amounting to 300 men, with a nume- 
rous body of Indians. 
He invests Colonel St. Lcger invested Fort Schuyler, sittiate s± 
c°r ^'^^ head of the Mohawk river, and 110 miles from Al- 

bany, on the 3d of August. The intelligence of his ap- 
proach, received from Colonel Ganscvoort who com- 
manded the post, had roused the militia of the upper set- 
tlements of that river ; and General Herkimer marched 
the same day, with about 800 men, to succour the garri- 
son, having advised Colonel Gansevoort of his purpose, 
by a light party which eluded the vigilance of the enemy 
and reached the Fort. This body of citizens, headed by 
a chief unskilled in military affairs, was led on without 
the ordinary precautions of front or flank guards, and 
in the morning of the 6th, about five miles from the 
fort, fell into an ambuscade of Indians and royalists, 
under the direction of Sir John Johnson, who had been 
General •^^tached by St. Leger to meet them. A fierce and obsti- 
Herkimer. nate action ensued, in which the militia, although sur- 
prised, and fighting under manifest disadvantages, main- 
tained their ground with great resolution. Herkimer* 
was mortally wounded in the onset, yet refused to be car- 
ried off the field, and continued to animate his men ; 
who, after a contest of two hours, when the enemy 
ceased their fire, and drew off from the field of bat- 
tle,! retreated with such deliberation, as to carry off 
their wounded. During the period of the action. Colo- 
nel Gansevoort ordered a sortie of 250 men, under Lieu- 
tenant-colonel Willctt, against the encampment of the ene- 
my in his rear, w hich was executed with the conspicuous 

* Herkimer an honest, plain, unlettered German, well merited the 
monument which was voted by Congress, in commemoration of his 
death. 

f Captain Stephen Watts, of Sir John Johnson's corps, was left on 
the field of battle with a broken leg", where he was found a day or two 
after by the enemy. 



GENERAL WILKINSON. gO$ 

gallantry, displayed by this revolutionary veteran on va- chap. 
rious occasions during the war : he desiroyed their camp ^ 
equipage and provisions, and carried into the fort many 
utensils and much baggage of the enemy, without the 
loss of a man. General Herkimer died of his wounds a 
few days after the action, in which our loss of killed and 
wounded was estimated at one hundred and sixty. St. 
Leger does not in his report of the affair mention his loss 
of whites, but admits that thirty Indians were killed, and 
the same number wounded; among whom there were se- 
veral of their favourite chiefs and confidential warriors.* 
Both sides, as is frequently the case, claimed the victory, 
but as tliere was no pursuit on either side, it was evi- 
dently a drawn action, which spread sorrow over an ex- 
tensive American settlement, eventually blasted St. Le- 
ger's hopes, and raised the siege of Fort Schuyler with- 
out a second conflict; for the loss suffered by the Indians 
afflicted and disheartened them, and the circumstance of 
the British troops not having participated in the combat, 
filled them with disgust and jealousies, which produced a 
general defection. 

The news of this engagement reached General Schuy- General 
ler the 7th, with an exaggerated account of our loss, and ^/de <i 
on the 11th he detached Brigadier-general Learned, with to the 
about 800 continental troops, to reinforce the militia. On p^j.^ °* 

Schuyler. 
* Extract nf a letter from Colonel Butler to Sir Guy Carleton, dated 
Camp, Fort Stanioix, Aug. 15th, 1777. 

«' Of the New Yorkers, Captain M'Donald was killed, Captain Watts 
dangerously wounded, and one subaltern ; of the rangers, Captains 
Wilson and Hare killed, and one private wounded. The Indians suf- 
fered much, having 33 killed, and 29 wounded; the Senecas lost 17 
men, among whom were several of their chief warriors, and had 16 
wounded. During the whole action the Indians shewed the greatest 
zeal for his majesty's cause; and had they not been a little too preci- 
pltate, scarcely a rebel of the parly had escaped. Most of the leading 
rebels are cut off in the action, so that any farther attempts from that 
quarter is not to be expected. Captain Watts of the Royal New 
Yorkers, whose many amiable qualities deserved a belter fate, lay 
wounded in three places upon the field two days before he was found; 
however, it is thought he will recover."— Per/. Re^. vqL 9. p- 227. 



206 



MEMOIRS BY 



CHAP. 
V. 



'Japtain 
Warren's 
skirmish 
with the 

Indians. 



the 13th (jreneral Arnold, having volunteered iiis services, 
was « ordered to proceed to the German Flatts to take the 
chief command, with instructions to call out the militiaf and 
relieve Fort Schmjler, if practicable; otherwise to adopt 
such measures as would most effectually cover the setllements 
of' the Mohawk." 

Having made these arrangements. General Schuyler 
determined to form a camp at the confluence of the Mo- 
hawk with the Hudson's river, as a more convenient posi- 
tion for watching the operations of St. Leger, and from 
its proximity to his general hospital and depots at Al- 
bany, to save the expense of transport, and refresh his 
troops, who were suffering from disease ; or finally, should 
events impose it on him, to resist the advance of General 
Burgoynej but before he marched from Stillwater, an 
incident occurred which is worthy of record, because it 
will expose to the reader the abject humiliation of those 
troops, who were destined in a few weeks to conquer the 
very enemy, wliose name had excited terror, and whose 
presence had struck them with dismay. Such is the fluc- 
tuation of the moral and physical energy^ — such the in- 
constancy to which the human character is liable, vvlien 
the mind or body is diseased, or life is put at hazard. 

A Captain Warren, with a light party on scout, being 
attacked by a superior number of Indians, he retired to 
a deserted cabin, and on attempting to force it, one of 
the warriors was killed, upon which the Indians retreat- 
ed ; Warren had also one man killed, whom he brought 
into camp, with the scalp of the Indian. This trifling 
skirmish produced the excitements of a victory, and was 
recognised in the following 



GENERAL ORDER. 



" H. q. Stillwater, Jug. 9th, 1777. 
" The General thanks Captain Warren and the good 
soldiers of his party, for the gallant resistance they yes- 
terday made against a superior number of savages. As 
Captain W^arren has convinced the army? that those bar- 



GENERAL WILKINSON. g07 

barians are neither invulnerable nor invincible, the Ge- chap. 
neral flatters himself that our parties will never again ^* 
retreat from them, unless they find themselves manifest- 
ly outnumbered. Our brave fellow soldier who gloriously 
loll ill this skirmish is to be buried this day with the ho- 
nours of war." 

We decamped from Stillwater on the 14th, and after 
several halts took post the 18th on Van Schaick's island, 
formed by the mouths of the Mohawk. General Gates r.eneral 
arrived, and again superceded General Schuyler in com- apVin sn- 
mand on the 19th, and at an interesting epoch of the pt ''-cedes 
campaign. The current of adversity had expended it- schuyk:-. 
self, and a flood of good fortune began to pour in upon 
the American arms ; and when General Schuyler was 
confidently looking forward to a change of circumstances 
which miglit reward him for his zeal and assiduity by 
the repulse of the enemy, of which he never appeared to 
doubt. The long halt of General Burgoyne in the vici- 
nity of Fort Edward, and the incessant exertions of Ge- 
neral Schuyler, to rouse the dormant spirit of the coun- 
try, began to dissipate the alarm which had appalled ci- 
tizen and soldier, and from the extreme of despondency, 
to restore that self confidence, which was consummated 
by the affair of Bennington. 

The obstacles opposed to General Burgoyne's progress General 
the moment he was obliged to abandon his water trans- ^"^' , 

'^ goyne s 

port, increased at every step he advanced ; by sitting difficul- 

down at Skeensborough more than twenty days, he had *^'^^ ^*^'- 
" '' -f ' counted 

enabled General Schuyler to break up every road, and for. 
obstruct every approach to the Hudsons river. These "'"^^ ^' 
happily conceived and actively prosecuted measures, sub- 
jected the British army to heavy fatigues and unavoid- 
able delays, and on his arrival at Fort Edward, he 
found his operations shackled by a great deficiency of 
the land transport which had been contracted for in Ca- 
nada. To obviate those difficulties, mount Reidesel's 
dragoons, test the affections of the country, and indulge 



208 



MEMOIRS BY 



CHAP. 
V. 



Extract 
from 
Colonel 
Bauine's 
instruc- 
tions. 



the chimerical idea of alarming the eastern states, he was 
prevaile<l on to hazard an enterprizc, which eventuated 
in the loss of one-sixth of Ills regular force, and was 
the precursor of the approaching catastrophe. 

The motives which led General Burgoyne to this ad- 
venturous operation, are precisely defined in the follow^- 
ing extract from his instructions to Lieutenant-colonel 
Baume, bearing date Fort Edward, Aug. 9th, 1777: — 
« The objects of your expedition are to try the affections of 
the country f to disconcert the councils of the enemy, to moitnt 
BeideseVs dragoons, to complete Peters's corps, and to obtain 
large supplies of cattle, horses and carriages." The delu- 
sions by which General Burgoyne was misled, may be 
traced to the excessive zeal, and consequent misrepre- 
sentations of Governor Skcene, and those who had aban- 
doned the cause of their country to join the royal standard; 
wljo were themselves beguiled by personal interests and ani- 
mosities, and their eagerness to manifest the sincerity of 
their devotion. A stranger to the topography of the coun- 
try, its improvements, population, and the political dis- 
position of the people, it was natural that the General 
should listen to those whom he conceived best qualified to 
smooth his path, and who found a momentary impor- 
tance in fanning his hopes and ambition. Such illusions 
are common to the human mind, and the strongest un- 
derstanding is not always exempt from their influence. 

But General Burgoyne committed a great error, in 
his selection of a corps for this critical service, which 
was ignorant of the language, habits, and manners of 
the country — a fatal oversight; and the want of discern- 
ment, decision, and celerity of movement, essentials in 
which the Germans were deficient, augmented their em- 
barrassments; besides the detachment of Baume was too 
inconsiderable to awe the country, and not qualified to 
resist the attack of half its numbers in a broken country, 
abounding with defiles, covered with wood, and peopled 
with a hardy, resolute race of men : but above all, the 
tour prescribed was too extensive, and the operations 



GENERAL WILKINSON. 209 

too dilatory; indeed tlie instructions of General Biirgoyne chap. 
to Lieutenant-colonel Baunie betray extreme isjnorance ^• 
or presumption, and justified the conclusion wliich is ex- 
liibited in the following letters. 

« Van Schaik's Island, dug. ISth, 1777. 
« Sip, 

*' I have the lionour to congratulate Congress on a Schuyler 

sii^nul victory obtained bv General Stark, an account o"'^, » 

'^ •' • ' S lurks 

whereof is contained in the following letter from General letters. 
Lincoln,* which I have this moment had the happiness 
to receive, together with General Burgoyne's insti-uc- 
tions to Lieutenant-colonel Baume, copy whereof is in- 
cloj^ed. 

*< I am in hopes that Congress will very soon have the 
satisfaction to hear, that General Arnold has raised the 
siege of Fort Schuyler. If that takes place, I believe it 
will be possible to engage two or tliree hundred Indians 
to join this army, and Congress may rest assured that 
my very best endeavours shall not be wanting to accom- 
plish it. 

** I am informed that General Gates arrived at Albany 
yesterday. Major Livingston, one of my aids, will have 
the honour to deliver you this despatch. 

" I am, with every sentiment of respect, 
" Your obedient servant, 

«P. SCHUYLER. 
« Hon. John Hancock, Preset of Congress.'* 



« Benni7igton, Aug. 22d, ±777. 
*« Dear General, 

" I received yours of the 19th instant, which gave me 
great pleasure. I beg to be excused for not answering 
it sooner, I have been so sick ever since, that I could not 

* General Stark's account being more minute and characteristic, 
13 entered in place of General Lincoln's. 
VOL. I. Dd 



310 MEMOIRS BY 

CHAP, write, neither am I well as yet. But General Lin- 
^' coin has written, and I joined with him in opinion on 
the subject of his letter. I shall now give your ho- 
nour a short account of the action on the 16tli instant, 
I was informed there was a party of Indians in Cam- 
bridge, on their march to this place: I sent Colonel 
Greg of my brigade to stop them with two hundred men: 
In the night I was informed by express, that there was a 
large body of the enemy on their march in the rear of the 
Indians : I rallied all my brigade and what militia was 
at this place, in order to stop their proceedings ; I like- 
wise sent to Manchester to Colonel Warner's regiment 
that was stationed tliere ; also sent expresses for the mi- 
litia to come in with all speed to our assistance, which 
was punctually obeyed : I then marched in company with 
Colonels Warner, Williams, Herrick and Brush, with all 
tlie men that were present. About five miles from this 
place, I met Colonel Greg on his retreat, and the ene- 
my in close pursuit after him : I drew up my little army 
in order of battle; but when the enemy hove in sight, 
they halted on a very advantageous hill or piece of ground. 
I sent out small parties in their front, to skirmish witli 
them, which scheme had a good effect j they killed and 
wounded thirty of the enemy without any loss on our side; 
but the ground that I was upon did not suit for a general 
action. I marclied back about one mile and encamped, 
V called a council, and it was agreed, that we should send 

two detachments in their rear, while the other attacked 
them in front; but tlic 15th it rained all day, therefore 
had to lay by, could do nothing but skirmish with them. 
On the I6th in the morning, was joined by Colonel Sim- 
mons with some militia from Berkshire county : I pur- 
sued my plan, detached Colonel Nicolls witli £00 men to 
attack them in the rear; I also sent Colonel Herrick with 
300 men in the rear of tljeir right, both to join, and when 
joined, to attack their rear : I also sent Colonel Hubbard 
and Stickney with 20O men, in their right, and sent 100 
men in their front, to draw away their attention that 
way; and about three o'clock we got all ready for the 



GENERAL AVILKINSO]t>[. gll 

attack. Colonel Nicolls began the same, which was fol- chap. 
lowed by all the rest. The remainder of my little atmy ^' 
I pushed up in the front, and in a few minutes the actioit 
began in general j it lasted two hours, the hottest I ever 
saw in my life* — it represented one continued clap of 
thunder ; however the enemy was obliged to give way, 
and leave their field pieces and all their baggage behind 
them: they were all environed within two breastworks 
with their artillery, but our martial courage proved too 
hard for them. I then gave orders to rally again, in 
order to secure the victory, but in a few minutes was in- 
formed, that there was a large reinforcement on their 
march within two miles. Lucky for us, that moment Co- 
lonel Warner's regiment came up fresh, who marched on 
and began the attack afresh. I pushed forward as many 
of the men as I could to their assistance : the battle con- 
tinued obstinate on both sides till sunset ; the enemy was 
obliged to retreat; we pursued them till darkj but had 
day lasted an hour longer, we should have taken the 
whole body of them. We recovered four pieces of brass 
cannon, some hundred stands of arms, and brass bar- 
relled drums, several Hessian swords, about 700 prison- 
ers, 207 dead on the spot; the number of wounded is as 
yet unknown; that part of the enemy that made their 
escape, marched all night, and we returned to our camp. 
Too much honour cannot be given to the brave officers 
and soldiers for gallant behaviour; they fought through 
the midst of fire and smoke, mounted two breastworks 
that were well fortified, and supported with cannon. I 
cannot particularise any officer, as they all behaved with 
the greatest spirit and bravery : Colonel Warner's su- 
perior skill in the action, was of extraordinary service 
to me; I would be glad he and his men could be recom- 
mended to Congress. As 1 promised in my order, that 
the soldiers should have all the plunder taken in the ene- 
my's camp, would be glad your lionour would send me 

* He was :i captain of rangers on the plains of Abrabamp with Gene* 
pal Wole. 



gl3 MEMOIRS BY 

CHAP, word, wliat the value of the cannon and other artillery 
^^^,._,^^ stores above described may be. Our loss was inconside- 
rable; about forty wounded and thirty killed* 1 lost my 
horse, bridle and saddle in the action. 
<« I am, Sir, 
« Your most devoted and most ob't humble serv't, 

«* JOHN STARK. 
«< Major-general Gates, Albany.** 

st.Lef^er's jf ^g tj,|,^ ^yp gygg {^rtm those scenes of triumph in 

expedi- *^ ^ 

tion. the east, to Fort Schuyler in the west, we shall find St. 

Leger crippled by Herkimer, obstinately resisted by the 
modest and excellent soldier Gansevoort, and alarmed 
by the approach of Arnold, hastily raising the siege, and 
retiring vvith the partial loss of his artillery, camp equi- 
page and provisions. The most satisfactory account of 
this transaction which I can offer the reader, will be 
found in St. Leger's report to General Burgoyne, bear- 
His re- ing date Oswego, Aug. 27th, 1777, an extract from. 
General which I beg leave to quote. <* When by the unabatingl 
Burgoyne. labour of officers and men, (the smallnessof our nunibcrsl 
never admitting of a relief, or above three hours cessa- 
tion for sleep or cooking) the batteries and redoubts were 
iinishe^, and new cheeks and axle-trees made for the six 
pounders, those that were sent being reported rotten and 
unserviceable, it was found that our cannon had not the 
least effect upon the sod work of the fort, and that our 
royals had only the power of teasing, as a six-inch plank, 
was a sufficient security for their powder magazine J 
which we learnt from the deserters. At this time, Lieu-1 
tenant Glenie of the artillery, whom I had appointed Xm 
act as assistant engineer, proposed a conversion of thcs 
royals (if I may use the expression) into howitzers ; th0l 
ingenuity and feasibility of this measure striking me^ 
vciy strongly, the business was set about immediatelyJ 
and soon executed j when it was found that nothing pre-j 
vented their operating witli the desired effect, but the^ 
distance — their chambers being too small to hold a suffi- 
ciency of powder. There was nothing now to be done. 



GENERAL WILKINSON. 213 

but to approach the town by sap, to such a distance that chap. 
the rampart might be brought within their portice ; at the ^ 
same time all materials were preparing to run a mine 
under their most formidable bastion. 

<* In the midst of these operations, intelligence was 
brought in by our scouts, of a second corps of one thou- 
sand men being on their march. The same zeal no longer 
animated the Indians; they complained of our thinness 
of troops, and their former losses. I immediately called 
a council of the chiefs ; encouraged them as much as I 
could; promised to lead tliem on myself, and bring into 
the field three hundred of the best troops. They listened 
to this, and promised to follow me, and agreed that I 
should reconnoitre the ground properest for the field of 
battle the next morning, accompanied by some of their 
chief warriors, to settle the plan of operations. 

« When upon the ground appointed for the field of 
battle, scouts came in with the account of the first num- 
ber swelled to 2000: immediately after a third, that Ge- 
neral Burgoyne's army was cut to pieces, and that Ar- 
nold was advancing, by rapid and forced marches, with 
three thousand men. It was at this moment I began to 
suspect cowardice in some, and treason in others ; how- 
ever, I returned to camp, not without hopes, with the as- 
sistance of my gallant coadjutor Sir John Johnson, and 
the influence of the superintending colonels, Claus and 
Butler, of inducing them to meet the enemy. A council, 
according to their custom, was called to know their re- 
solutions, before the breaking up of which, I learned that 
two hundred were already decamped. In about an hour 
they insisted that I should retreat, or they would be 
obliged to abandon me. — I had no other part to take (and 
a hard part it was, to troops who could do nothing with- 
out them, to yield to their resolves); and therefore pro- 
posed to retire at night, sending on before my sick, 
wounded, artillery, &c. down the Wood creek, covering 
them by our line of march. This did not fall in with 
their views; which were no less than treacherously com- 
mitting ravage upon their friends, as they had lost the 



J814. MEMOIRS BY 

CHAP. Opportunity of doing it upon their enemies. To effect 
^' this, they artfully caused messengers to come in, one 
after the other, with accounts of the nearer approaches of 
the rebels; one and the last affirmed, that they were 
within two miles of Captain Lernoult's post. Not giving 
entire credit to this, and keeping to my resolution of re- 
tiring by night, they grew furious and abandoned; 
seized upon the officers' liquor and clothes, in spite of 
the efforts of their servants; and became more formida- 
ble than the enemy we had to expect. I now thought it 
time to call in Captain Lernoult's post, retiring with the 
troops in camp to the ruined fort, called William, in the 
front of the garrison, not only to wait the enemy, if they 
thought proper to sally, but to protect the boats from the 
fury of the savages. Having sent forward Captain Hoyes 
with his detachment, with one piece of cannon, to the 
place where Bull Fort stood, to receive the troops who 
waited the arrival of Captain Lernoult, most of the boats 
were escorted that night beyond Canada creek, where no 
danger was to be apprehended from the enemy. The 
creek at this place, bending from the road, has a deep 
cedar swamp between : every attention was now turned 
io the mouth of the creek, which the enemy might have 
possessed themselves of by a rapid march by the Oneida 
castle. At this place the whole of the little army arrived 
by twelve o'clock at night, and took post in such a man- 
ner as to have no fears of any thing the enemy could 
do." 
Kcflee- We have here some examples of the character of the 

recent" Indian tribes. Tlie effects of these signal events were 
events, more extensive than appeared at first view, and connect- 
ed with all the circumstances which had ensued the eva- 
cuation of Ticonderoga, must warrant the following con- 
clusions : — 

1st. — That the army of Lieutenant-general Burgoyne 
had been essentially disabled ; by the loss of a heavy de- 
tachment, with its artillery and baggage; and by the dis- 
comfiture of a collateral branch of the expedition he 
•:omfnanded. 



GENERAL WILKINSON. 215 

2d That the zeal, patriotism, perseverance, and sa- chap. 

lutary arrangements of General Schuyler, had roused the ^" 
spirit of the country, and vanquished the prejudices ex- 
cited against him by artifice, intrigue and detraction. 

3(1. — That by the repulse of St. Leger and the capture 
of the detachment under Colonel Baume; safety had been 
restored to the western frontier; and the panic terror 
which pervaded the community had subsided. 

4th. — That these circumstances enabled General Schuy- 
ler, to coii^centrate and oppose his whole continental force 
to the main body of the enemy; and 

5th. — That the friends of the revolution were reani- 
mated and excited to a manly resistance, whilst the ad- 
herents of the royal cause were intimidated, and shrunk 
into silence and inactivity, anterior to the arrival of Ge- 
neral Gates to take the command. 

From these premises?, which rest on incontrovertible 
facts, it may fairly be dedvced, that the same force which 
enabled General Gates to subdue the British army, would 
have produced a similar efFecJ; under tlie orders of Gene- 
ral Schuyler; since the operativons of the campaign did 
not involve a single instance of professional skill, and 
the triumplj of the American arms was accomplished by 
the physical force and valour of the tr(M)ps, under the 

PROTECTION AND DIRECTION OF THE GoD OF BATTIES. 

For the justice of these remarks, I have no hesitation to 
appeal to his excellency Governor Brooks of Massachu- 
setts, and to Henry Dearborn, esq. late major-general in 
the service of the United States, who shared the toils, 
perils and hardships of that memorable campaign. 

But it is not my intention by these observations to 
derogate from the merits or services of General Gates, 
which were important and conspicuous; on the con- 
trary, it is my opinion, that under a change of cir- 
cumstances, the same causes which degraded General 
Schuyler, would have sunk General Gates under popu- 
lar discontent and congressional anathemas; and in such 
case, all the consequences would have been reversed: 



216 MEMOIRS BY 

CHAP, but I shall ever believe, that St. Clair laid the founda- 
^ ■ tion of our good fortune in the convention of Saratoga. 
Cause of '^ ''^^ ^^^^ remarked by the American historiographers, 
r.cnerai that Geo. Schuyler did not possess popularity in t!»e New 
wam^of '^ ^ England states, but they profess their ignorance of the 
popular!- cause; yet, with due deference, I think it may be traced 
to certain jealousies which had subsisted between the co- 
lonies of New York and New England respecting terri- 
torial limits, anterior to the revolution, which had been 
strongly excited, about the period I am speaking of, by 
the pretensions of the Hampshire grantees, who had en- 
tered upon a tract of country claimed by the government 
of New York, and which was subsequently erected into 
the state of Vermont.* The rancour of civil feuds is in- 
creased by the approximation of the parties, and the line 
of demarcation being defined, individual exceptions cease- 
In this case, the controvertists v/ere distinguished by the 
designation of Yankee and Yorker ; somewhat may also 
be ascribed to social habits and manners ; those of New 
England were, at that period, democratic and puritani- 
cal, whilst in New York they were courtly and aris- 
tocratic. 

The national councils were no longer governed by the 
harmony of 17T5 ; the pressure of common dangers had 
ceased to operate as a bond of union ; local prejudic es 
had crept into Congress, and that honourable body had 
split into parties. The fact is strongly illustrated by the 
following extract of a letter from that respectable oha- 
racter Colonel Joseph Trumbull, commissary general of 
the army, and son of the venerable governor of Connec- 
ticut: *' I have quitted the commissarij department ; the re- 
gulations which form the ground on which I fiave quitted, 
were formed hy the junto. Is it known in your state (Mas- 

• It was General Gates's policy to favour the views of the inhabi- 
tants of the Hampshire grants, which made him popular with those 
people ; and I have cause to believe that the name of the state was 
~ devised in his quarters at Ticonrleroga in 1776, from the Latin desig- 

nation of the country, virides montes. 



GENERAL WILKINSON. 217 

sachiisetfs) that the president (Hancock) is with the Yorkers CHAP. 
and southern bashaws ; that if he wants any thing moved, 
his brotlier delegates are not applied to, but the motion comes 
from Diiane, or some other person of no better character; and 
that there is no harmony between him and his brethren."* 

The Conc^i'css must have been conscious, that Ticon- Extraor- 
tleroga was lost by their own neglect, or the misapplica- dinary 

• Droccccl* 

tion of the force intended for its defence; yet yielding to fngs of 
personal prejudice, and the popular outcry produced by Congress. 
the evacuation of that post, they passed the following in- 
temperate resolutions, which rendered an cmendatory 
resolution necessary, and but for the admonition of Ge- 
neral Washington, would have stripped the northern 
army of general officers at a critical stage of the cam- 
paign. 

In Congress, July 9.9th, 1777. 

*< Resolved, That an inquiry be made into the reasons 
of the evacuation of Ticonderoga and Mount Indepen- 
dence, and into the conduct of the general officers who 
were in the northern department at the time of the eva- 
cuation ; that a committee be appointed to digest and re- 
port tlie mode of conducting the inquiry." 

f' July 30. — Resolved, That Major-general St. Clair, 
who commanded at Ticonderoga and Mount Indepen 
dence, forthwith repair to head quarters." 

« Jug 1. — Resolved, That Major-general Schuyler be 
directed to repair to head quarters. 

" That General Washington be directed to order such 
general officer as he shall think proper, immediately to 
repair to the northern department, to relieve Major-ge- 
neral Schuyler in his command there j that Brigadier 
Poor, Brigadier Patterson, and Brigadier Roche de Fer- 
moy, be directed to repair to liead quarters." 

<' Aug. 3. — Resolved, That General Washington be di- 
rected to order the general whom he shall think proper 
to relieve General Schuyler in his command, to repair 

• Gordon. 

vol/. I. E c 



218 MEMOIRS BY 

CHAP, witli all possible expedition to the northern department, 

^^^__^^ S'ving him directions what number of the militia to call 

from the states of New Hampshire, Massachusetts Bay, 

Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania. 

« That notice be immediately sent to the executive 
powers of tiic said states, and that they be earnestly re- 
quested to get the njilitia in those parts of their respec- 
tive states most contiguous to the department, ready to 
inarch at a moment's warning; and to send with all pos- 
sible expedition, such parts of them as the general com- 
manding in the northern department shall require, to 
serve till the 15th November, if not sooner relieved by 
the continental troops, or dismissed by the commanding 
officer of the department, and entitled to the continental 
pay and rations. 

«*That the commanding officer in the northern depart- 
ment have discretionary power to make requisitions on 
the states aforesaid from time to time, for such additional 
numbers of the militia to serve in that department, as he 
shall judge necessary for the public service." 

" Whereas it is represented to Congress, that General 
\yashington is of opinion, that the immediate recal of aH' 
the brigadiers from the northern army may be produc- 
tive of inconvenience to the public service — 

" Resolvedf That the order of Congress of the first da} 
of this month, respecting the said brigadiers, be suspend- 
ed, until General Washington shall judge it may be car- 
ried into effect with safety." 

But General Washington, who knew where the fault 
lay, and reposed entire confidence in General Schuyler, 
declined ministering in the injustice offered to that offi- 
cer, and excused himself from nominating his successor; 
whereupon. Congress, by special resolution, conferred 
the command upon Major-general Gates, and after hold- 
ing Schuyler and St. Clair in cruel suspense for more 
than a year, they were permitted to appear before a ge- 
neral court martial, which passed the following sentences 
of acquittal. 



GENERAL WILKINSON. 1^19 

CHAP. 

« quaker Hill, Sept. 9,0th, 1778. ^ 

« The court having duly considered the cliarges against Honoura 
MAJOR-GENERAL ST. CLAIR, and the evidence, tie ac- " 
are unanimously of opinion, that he is NOT GUILTY ^jenerll"^ 
of either of the charges preferred against him, and do St. Clair 
unanimously acquit him of all and every of them with the ^^1 Schuv- 
HIGHEST HONOUR. ler. 

" B. LINCOLN, Major Gen. 4^ PresH.'' 

« quaker Hill, Oct. 5d, 1778. 
" The court having considered the charge against 
MAJOR-GENERAL SCHUYLER, the evidence and 
his defence, are unanimously of opinion he is not guilty 
of any neglect of duty, in not being at Ticonderoga, as 
charged, and the court do therefore acquit him WITH 
THE HIGHEST HONOUR. 

« B. LINCOLN, Major Gen. ^ PresH.'' 

This conduct of Congress towards two such respecta- Conduct 

ble, able and faithful servants of the republic, was con- ^! *'^^ 

*^ then Con- 

sidered most unrighteous, and drew great and deserved gresscom- 
odium on its authors. — But when compared with the pai"e<iwith 

* the con- 

cold hearted cruelty of President Madison, it must be duct of 

considered the lenity of justice. The confidential se- President 

-' "^ Madisoq. 

cret reporters introduced by Mr. Madison into the Ame- 
rican army, originated with TIBERIUS, and have been 
handed down to posterity, by the tyrants of Europe ; but 
that the government of the United States, should have le- 
galised such an abominable system of espionage, is a cir- 
cumstance of national degradation and reproach ; that 
men clothed in the garb of honour, sliould be employed 
and paid to watch over and pry into the conduct of their 
brethren in arms, to scrutinise their infirmities, and keep 
records of ordinary conversations, for the secret informa- 
tion of a president of the United States, will scarcely be 
credited, but by those who have seen numbers struck 
from the rolls of the army, without charge or accusation, 
and in total ignorance of the cause of ther dishonour ; 



V 



% 

a 

220 MEMOIRS BY 

CHAP, or who have seen the mass of foul accusation preferred 
against me by President Madison and liis advisers, with 
every alteration, revision and addition that human ma- 
lice, official cunning, and legal chicane could invent, 
during a lapse of six months, and even up to the time 
I appeared a prisoner before the court. 

Tliis power to disgrace an American citizen, without 
hearing, is as repugnant to the genius of our govern- 
ment, as it is offensive to the ordinary maxims of moral 
justice : it was exercised but twice anterior to Mr. Ma- 
dison's accession to the presidential chair; once by Ge- 
neral Washington, and once by Mr. Jefferson, and itl 
have been correctly informed, with much reluctance in 
both cases, although for offences notoriously infamous. 

For the safety of the constitution and the honour of the 
army, I hope the day is not distant, when a virtuous and 
enlightened legislative body may interpose its authority, 
to abolish this odious assumption of inquisitorial power, 
and annul the vile office of confidential reporters, or in 
other words of secret familiars or informers, the assas- 
sins of good fame. 

At the period when the manners of the Romans were 
most pure, when honour and virtue formed the pil- 
lars of the republic, the Remmian law exacted, that a 
false accuser should have the letter K branded on his 
forehead, as a mark of infamy. When Eschines falsely 
accused Ctesiphon, he was condemned to pay five thou- 
sand drachmas; but in our republic, at this early day, 
such are the strides of corruption, that the innocent arc 
condemned, and the accusers are either rewarded or suf- 
fered to escape with impunity — to preserve the HAR- 
MONY OF THE CABINET, and promote the inte- 
rests of THE RULING PARTY. tempora! mores! 



GENERAL WILKINSON. 22i 

CHAPTER YL 

General Gates relieves General Schuyler in the command of chap. 
the northern army. — Rejlections on the treatment expe- y^-y,^;^. 
rienced by General Schmjler. — His letter to General 
Washington. — General JBurgoyne's instructions and con- 
duct considered. — Condition of the army under General 
Gates. — Mvantages tmder which he resumed the com- 
mand. — General order of August 20th, ±777. — Extraor- 
dinary powers vested in General Gates by Congress.—. 
Extract of General Washington's letter to Governor Clin- 
ton. — General Washington to General Gates, and the an- 
swer. — Colonel Morgan and his rifle corps reach head quar- 
ters. — Doctor Wood arrives with a letter from General 
Bnrgoyne to General Gates, complaining of the treatment 
of wounded prisoners. — General Gates retorts, and calls 
General Burgoyne's attention to the case of Miss M*Crea. 
.—Facts respecting her death. — Movement of the Ameri- 
can army. — General Gates takes jwssessioii of Behmus's 
heights. — His ignor'ance of the position of the enemy.^— 
Colonel Wilkinson detached on a reconnoissance. — Ascer- 
tains that General Burgoyne was advancing. — This fact 
confirmed by two British prisoners. — General Burgoyne's 
movement from Saratoga to Davocotc, where he halts to 
reconnoitre and repair bridges. — Advances and encamps 
on the Hudson'*s river. — Description of his camp.-— 
Also that of General Gates. — Intervening ground de- 
scribed. — Further movements of the enemy. — Action com- 
mences. — The rifle corps drives the enemy^s picket, and 
falls in with his line. — Colonel Wilkinson visits the field 
of battle, and meets Colonel Morgan. — General Gates or- 
ders out reinforcements. — Action becomes general. — Corps 
principally engaged. — The engagement accidental. — The 
scene of action descnbed. — Loss on the part of the British 
artillery. — General Burgoyne* s account of the action.^— 
JVb general officer present in the field of battle till the 
evening, — Action sustained by individnal courage rather 



JlSS 



MEMOIRS B\ 



than iniUtary skill. — Death of Ensign Phillips^ a ivouml- 
eil jnisoner. — Bejlections on that tvent. — Return of killed 
and wounded. — Loss of the eneimj. — Colonel Brown" s sitc- 
cessfid enterprise against the enemy near Ticovderoga. 
— Conduct of the militia under General Stark. — Arrival 
of a British deserter. — Information obtained from him. — 
Expected attack.- — The deserter's information discredited, 
but afterwards proved to be correct. — Jlnecdote related to 
General Wilkinson by General Phillips. — General Bur- 
goyne's correspondence with Sir Henry Clinton. — Extra- 
ordinary combination of circumstances favourable to the 
American arms. — Beneficial effects of the action of the 
±9th Sept.-^Difference between General Gates and Gene- 
ral Arnold. — General order of the 22d Sept. the imme- 
diate cause of it. — Correspondence between them. — Jlr- 
noWs subsequent conduct. — General Lincoln's arrival, 
and appointment to the command of the right wing. 




Majok-generax Gates relieved Major-genera! 
Schuyler in the command of the northern department, 
on the evening of the 19th of August, precisely in season 
to profit by tlie reverse of fortune, vvliich had radically 
affected the physical force of tlie adverse armies; and to 
Schuyler, engross all the eclat which attended the auspicious change. 
I loved Gates, but I loved justice better ; and my heart 
bled for Schuyler, when he was obliged to resign the 
fruits of his labours, and sorrowfully laid down his com- 
mand. He might truly have exclaimed « sic vos noii 
vobis ."' Little did I think at that day, that the hard for- 
tune of this gentleman, would ever be measured out to 
myself; sad delusion! for my life has exhibited a succes- 
sion of mortification and injuries : yet that Almighty 
Power which controuls my destiny, has been pleased to 
endow me with resignation and tranquillity. General 
Schuyler's sensibilities are strongly depicted in a letter 
to General Washington, written about the time of his re- 
moval from command. " It is," says he, " matter of ex- 
treme chagrin to me to be deprived of the command, at 
a time when soodj if ever, we shall probably be enabled 



GENERAL WILKINSON. 222 

to meet tlie enemy; when we arc on the point of taking chap. 
ground wlierc they must attack to disadvantage, should ^^' 
our force be inadequate to facing them in the field; when 
an opportunity will in all probability occur, in which I 
might evince that I am not what Congress have too 
plainly insinuated, by the resolution taking the command 
from me." 

It is apparent, from General Burgoyne's cort'espon- General 
deuce with the English minister, and the evidence pro- o-oyne's 
duced on his enquiry before the House of Commons, that instruc- 

^ " tionsand 

if he had not considered his orders imperative, "to form conduct 
a jimction with Sir William Howe," he would have taken ^"nsider- 
a safe position, within reacli of his magazines at Fort 
George, and waited events ; but the peremptory tenor of 
his orders took away his discretion : he therefore, unap- 
palled by the misfortune of Baume, or the discomfiture 
of St. Leger, redoubled his activity and exertion to sur- 
mount the almost insuperable difficulties of deficient trans- 
port, and pursued his course witli a decision and perse- 
^erance worthy a better cause, and a more fortunate 
issue. Indeed the conduct of Burgoyne on this occasion, 
marked the soldier regardless of personal motives, faith- 
fid to his profession, and solely intent on the execution of 
liis instructions. 

The army of General Gates, reanimated by success, 
by returning health and increasing numbers, was foster- 
ed by General Washington, and invigorated by the zea- 
lous co-operation of that intrepid soldier, distinguished 
statesman, revered patriot, and inflexible republican. Ge- 
neral George Clinton,* who had been recently elected. 



• « Kingston, Sepi, lOih, 1777, 

"Sir, 

" I am favoured with yours of yesterday, and shall not fail of ex- 
erting every neive to give you all the aid from the militia of this state 
that can possibly be obtained. By my leter to you of the 15th in- 
stant, containing a copy of a letter which I received from General 
Putn;im, you will observe that I have ordered out eleven regiments 
of this state, to reinforce his army, strengthen the posts in the high- 
lands, and oppose the enemy who crossed the river into New Jersey. 



A'l 



2m MEMOIRS BY 

CHAP, governor of the state of New York; and Congress noTV 
exerted every means within the compass of their power, 
to strengthen his ranks, and give effect to his authority. 
On the day after liis arrival, General Gates issued the 
following 

GENERAL ORDER. 

«« H. Q. Van Schaick^s Island, Jlug. 2Qth, 1777. 
<« The most ijonourahle the Congress of the United 
States have heen pleased to appoint Major-general Ho- 
ratio Gates, to be commander in chief of the army in the 

These are already mardied for that purpose ; all the other regiments 
of militia in this state, (Tryou county and the Scoharie regiment ex- 
cepted) are ordered immediately to join your army, leaving only such 
small guards at home, as shall be necessary to secure the peace of 
the country against internal enemies, 

" I am, Sir, with great regard, 

" Your most obedient servant, 

« GEO. CLINTO^^ 
" His Honour J\fajor-geneval Gates." 

" Kingston, 15ih Sept. 1777- 
" Dear Sir, 

" About twelve o'clock this day I received the inclosed letter from 
General Putnam by express. In consequence of the intelligence 
therein contained, I have ordered eleven regiments of the militia of 
this state to march immediately, six of them to join General Put- 
nam's army at Peek's kill, two to strengthen the garrison of Fort 
Montgomery, and three to join General M'Dougal at Ramapogh. — 
This is the whole of the militia, as far north on both sides of the river 
as Poughkeepsie inclusive. 1 did not choose to extend my orders to 
those fin-ther northward, as it would put it out of my power to afford 
you that succour which you have reason to expect in case of a misfor- 
tune in your quarter. I have as yet received no further accounts of 
the action to the south^vard, but what is contained in the inclosed; 
as soon as I do I will forward them to you : I would fain hope, th;it 
in its consequences that action will prove more favourable to us than 
at first view it might be expected. I inclose you this day's paper. A 
line from you when a leisure moment offers, will be at all times very 
agreeable — being with very great regard your most obedient servant, 

<' GEO. CLINTON, 
" The Hun. Major-general Gates'"' 



GENERAL WILKINSON. 225 

nortliern department. Major Robert Tronp* and Major chap. 
James Miles Hughes, are appointed aids-de-camp to Ge- ^^' 
neral Gates, and are to be obeyed as such. 

*< The General wishes the conduct of all the officers 
under his command may be such as to render the exer- 
tion of the following resolution of Congress entirely un- 
necessary : he is sorry the northern army sliould, by the 
conduct of any individuals, be the occasion of such powers 
being put into his hands; the good officer will always 
find a patron in the General, tlie bad one must expect 
disgrace." 

In Congress, Aug, ±4fh, 1777. 

** ResolveiU That the commanding officer in the north- 
ern department be empowered, for the term of four 
months from the date of this resolution, to suspend offi- 
cers under his command for raal-conduct, and to appoint 
others in their room, till such time as the pleasure of Con- 
gress can he known concerning the person or -persons so sus- 
pended ; and that he report to Congress with as much de- 
spatch as possible, the names of such as he may suspend, 
with the cause of their suspension." j 

' Since Judge Troup of the state of New York. 

t " Philadelphia, Aug. Uth, 1777. 

"Sir, 

" The inclosed resolve which I have the pleasure of transmitting-, 
1 hope will find you safely arrived at the head of the army in the de- 
partment committed to jour care. 

" Want of discipline and otlier disorders, too apt to prevail in a re* 
treating army, have induced Congress to pass a resolve, empower- 
ing you to remedy those evils as far as possible, and ihey have for 
this purpose authorised you for the limited time of four months to sus- 
pend any officers for misconduct; not doubling that before the expi- 
ration of that period, you will be able to introduce that order and 
subordination so necessary in a military line. You will be pleased to 
. forward to Congress with as much despatch as possible, ihe names 
of those you may suspend with the reasons of their suspension. 

" Your zeal and success in the American cause have hitherto been 
so distinguished, that it is impossible for me not to flatter myself with 
VOL. I. F f 



g26 MEMOIRS BY 

CHAP. On the 21st the General received a letter from Gover- 
^'' nor Clinton, dated at Albany the same day, in which he 
Extract of ^'^Y^' ** I received a letter last night from his excellency 
General General Washington, dated Cross Roads, 16th August, 
ton's I'et^ in which there is tiic following paragraph. < I am for- 
tertoGo- warding as fast as possible, to join the northern army, 
Clinton. Colonel Morgan's riilemen, amounting to about five hun- 
dred men. These are well chosen men, selected from 
•the army at large, well acquainted with the use of rifles, 
and with that mode of fighting which is necessary to 
make them a good counterpoise to the Indians, and have 
distinguished themselves on a variety of occasions since 
the formation of the corps, in skirmishes with the enemy. 
I expect the most eminent services from them, and am 
mistaken if their presence docs not go far towards pro- 
ducing a general desertion among the savages. I should 
think it would be well, even before their arrival, to begin 
to circulate these ideas xvitk proper embellishments through- 
out the country, and in the army, and to take pains to 
communicate them to the enemy : it would not be amiss, 
among other things, to magnify numbers.* " 

This letter furnishes strong testimony of General 
Washington's impartial attention to the interests of the 
service, and his regard to the general safety of the coun- 
try ; it also proves his deep sagacity and the sounilnes.^ 
of his professional judgment ; and the following corrcs 
pondence will more fidly explain the liberal views and 
parental vigilance of the commander in chief, and the 
patriot zeal and proper feeling by which General Gatcf- 
was actuated at that time. 

the expectation, that we shall ere long have the most agreeable ac 
counts from the department where you command. I beg you will be 
pleased to transmit every important intelligence, as early as the situa 
tion of affairs will admit. All such resolves as relate to your depart 
ment shall be forwarded without delay. At present I have only tr 
request your attention to that herewith transmitted. 

" I have the honour to be, with the greatest respect, 
" Sir, your most ob't and very humble serv't 
" JOHN HANCOCK, President. 
" Hon. JMajor-general Gates." 



GENERAL WILKINSON. Sgy 

CHAP. 
"H. ((. Buck's County, Aug. QOth, 1777. ^"^ 
« Sir, 

« By a letter from General Schuyler of the 13th in- 
stant, it appears that you had not readied Stillwater at 
that time, since which I have not had any accounts from 
you, but expect you had arrived there soon after that 
date. 

« From the various representations made to me, of the 
disadvantage the army lay under, particularly the mili- 
tia, from an apprehension of the Indian mode of fighting, 
I have despatched Colonel Morgan, with his corps of 
riflemen, to your assistance, and expect they will be with 
you in eight days from this date. This corps I have 
great dependence on, and have no doubt but they will be 
exceedingly useful to you; as a check given to tlie savages, 
and keeping them within proper bounds, will prevent 
General Burgoyne from getting intelligence as formerly, 
and animate your other troops, from a sense of their 
being more on an equality with the enemy. Colonels 
Courtland's and Livingston's regiments are also on their 
way to join you, and must of course be with you in a 
very few days. With these reinforcements besides the 
militia under General Lincoln (which by this time must 
be pretty considerable), I am in hopes you will find 
yourself at least equal to stop the progress of Mr. Bur- 
goyne, and by cutting off his supplies of provision, &c. 
to render his situation ineligible. 

*' Since the enemy's fleet was seen off" Sinipuxent, the 
Sth instant, we have no accounts from them which can be 
depended on. I am now of opinion that Charleston is the 
present object of General Howe's attention, tiiough for 
what suflicient reason, unless he expected to drag this 
army after him, by appearing at different places, and 
thereby leave the country open to General Clinton, to 
mai'ch out and endeavour to form a junction with Gene- 
ral Burgoyne, I am at a loss to determine. 

« General Schuyler's sending a reinforcement to Fort 
Schuyler, I think was absolutely necessary; and am of 



SSB MEMOIRS BY 

CHAP. Opinion, that particular attention should be paid to the 



vr 



inroads leading to that quarter, as a successful stroke of 
the enemy there, might be a means of encouraging the 
whole of the Six Nations to unite against us, 
« I am, Sir, 

" Your most obedient servant, 
« GO. WASHINGTON. 
" Major-general Gates." 



« Head Quarters, Aug. 22d, 1777. 
" Sir, 

« Upon my arrival in this department, I found the 
main body of the army encamped upon Vain Schaick's 
island, which is made by the sprouts of the Mohawk 
river joining with Hudson's river, nine miles north of Al- 
bany. A brigade under General Poor encamped at Lou- 
don's ferry, on the south bank of the Mohawk i-iver, five 
miles from hence ; a brigade under General Lincoln had 
joined General Stark at Bennington, and a brigade under 
General Arnold marched the 15th instant to join the mi- 
litia of Tryon county, to raise the siege of Fort Stajiwix. 
Upon leaving Pliiladelphia, the prospect this way ap- 
peared very gloomy ; but the severe checks the enemy 
have met with at Bennington and in Tryon county, has 
given a more pleasing view to public affairs. Particular 
accounts of tlie signal victory gained by General Stark, 
and the severe blow General Herkimer gave Sir John 
Johnston and the scalpers under his command, have been 
transmitted to your excellency by Genei'al Schuyler. I 
anxiously expect tlie arrival of an express from General 
Arnold, with an account of the total defeat of the enemy 
in that quarter. By my calculation he reached Fort Stan- 
wix the day before yesterday. Colonel Livingston and 
Courtland's regiments arrived yesterday, and immediate- 
ly joined General Poor's division. I shall also order Ge- 
neral Arnold, upon his return, to march to that post. I 
cannot sufficiently thank your excellency for sending Co- 
lonel Morgan's corps to this army : they will be of the 



GENERAL WILKINSON. 22d 

greatest service to it; for until the late successes this chap. 
way, I am told the army were quite panic struck by their ^^• 
Indians, and their tory and Canadian assassins in Indian 
dresses. Horrible indeed have been the cruelties they 
have wantonly committed upon many of the miserable 
inhabitants ; insomuch that all is now fair for General 
Burgoyne, even if the bloody hatchet he has so barba- 
rously used should find its way into his own head. Go- 
vernor Clinton will be here to-day. Upon his arrival, I 
sliall consult with him and General Lincoln upon the 
best plan to distress, and I hope finally defeat, the ene- 
my. I am sorry to be necessitated to acquaint your ex- 
cellency how neglectfully your orders have been executed 
at Springfield — few of the militia demanded are yet ar- 
rived, but I hear of great numbers upon the march. Your 
excellency's advice in regard to Mojgan's corps, &c. &c. 
shall be carefidly observed. My scouts and spies inform 
me, that the enemy's head quarters and main body are 
at Saratoga, and that they have lately been repairing the 
bridges between that place and Stillwater. As soon as 
time and circumstances will admit, I shall send your ex- 
cellency a general return of this army. 
« I am Sir, 
" Your excellency's most ob't humble serv't. 
« HORATIO GATES." 
« His Excellency Gen. Washington^* 

Colonel Morgan arrived at head quarters on the 23d, Colonel 
and his corps got up in a few days, many of the officers and^ht" 
and men having sickened, in consequence of the change rifle corps 
of climate, or the effects of the march. As whatever re- ^ead 
latcs to a corps of such celebrity may be interesting, I quarters, 
have subjoined a copy of the first return [C] received from 
Colonel Morgan, who understood the ruse de guerre and 
hard fighting, much better than he did military details or 
tactical evolutions : his second and tiiird officers, Lieu- 
tenant- colonel Richard Butler,* of Pennsylvania, and 

• Kilkd in battle, Nov. 4th, 1791. 



330 MEMOIRS BY 

CHAP. Major Morris* of the Jerseys, were but little inferior to 
^^^' liitn in courage and conduct. To increase the weight 
and effect of this corps, which formed the elite of the 
army, two hundred and fifty bayonets were added to it, 
in tlie liands of vigorous young men selected from the 
line with great caution, and plai ed under the immediate 
charge of Major H. Dearborn, f who had traversed the 
wilderness with Arnold, and been a fellow prisoner of 
Morgan in Quebec ; and a more vigilant or determined 
soldier never wore a sword. 

General Gates kept up a force in Vermont, under the 
direction of General Lincoln, to hang on the left and 
rear of the enemy, to watch his motions, take advantage 
of any opening he miglit make, and keep him in check ; 
but all the measures of General Burgoyne were now 
taken with such sound precautions, as to bailie the enter- 
prize of our parti zans : in the mean time, every means 
were employed to clothe and arm the American troops, 
and by a rigid police, daily drills, and exact inspections, 
to prepare and equip them for the most efficient action. 
But during this period, the General remained in igno- 
rance of the movements of the enemy, and knew not whe- 
Ucneral ther tliey Iiad crossed the Hudson's river or not. Pending 

Burgoyne ^j^jg suspense, a Doctor Wood, surgeon to General Bur- 
complains *^ . . , ^ 1 ^1 -ii 1 Ji. 
of the goyne's hospitals, visited General Gates with a letter 

treatment ^^.q^ General Biirffoyne, relative to the wounded prison- 

oi British '^ "^ 

prisoners, ers taken near Bennington, of whose treatment he com- 
plained. General Gates seized the occasion to retort 
upon Burgoyne, the cruelties exercised by the savages 
under his orders, and with his encouragement; and call- 
ing his particular attention to the fate of a young lady, 
a Miss M'Crea, he gave loose to his imagination, and in 
glowing language, painted the tragic scene in such co- 
lours, as could but excite t!ie sympathy, and rouse the 
indignation of the country: and on this ground and with 
tliese motives only, was the murder of the unfortunate 

* Mortally wounded near White Marsh, in a severe skirmish with 
the elite of Sir William Howe's army, December 6th, 1778. 
t Late a major-general. 



GENERAL WILKINSON. 231 

girl recorded in such sympathetic strains; for was the chap. 
melancholy incident stripped of its liigh colouring, it ^'• 
might be thus related : — Miss Jenny M*Crea, a country g^^^ ^ 
girl, of an honest family in circimistances of mediocrity. Miss 
without either beauty or accomplishments, when the Ame- '^^"" 
rican army retreated from Fort Edward the 23d of July, 
had the indiscretion to remain behind it, and thus volun- 
tarily put herself in the power of the enemy. The In- 
dians entered immediately after we retired from the 
place and made her prisoner; and as the party returned 
towards General Burgoyne's camp, it has been repre- 
sented to me, they halted at a spring near the side of the 
road, where a controversy arose as to the right of pro- 
perty in the person of the captive. To put an end to the. 
dispute, a monster tomahawked her, and thus she foil a 
victim to the ferocious brutality of the Indians. Her vo- 
luntary stay after our troops had departed, may be as- 
cribed with as much justice to ignorance as tcwiny other 
cause; for it cannot be presumed site could anticipate, 
that she would have to encounter a band of rutldess bar- 
barians. Sucli exposition would not accord either with 
the timidity or delicacy of her sex ; but it lias been said 
tiiat a personal attachment induced her to remain behind, 
and that she died for love; therefore her memory should 
he honoured and embalmed in the bosom of sensibility. 
Yet it was not until after her death, that we heard she 
had remained at Fort Edward, in consequence of her at- 
tachment to a refugee, who had joined the British stan- 
dard. Her character was unexceptionable, and she had 
a cousin or brother, who was I think a surgeon's mate 
of the American hospital. 

After General Gates had written his letter to Bur 
goyne, he called General Lincoln and myself into his 
apartment, read it to us, and requested our opinions of it, 
which we declined giving; but being pressed by him, with 
diffidence v^e concurred in judgment, that he had been 
too personal ; to which the old gentleman replied with 
bis characteristic bluntness, " By G — d ! 1 don't believe 



ass MEMOIRS BY 

CHAP, either of you can mend it j" — and thus the consultation 
^*- terminated. 
Movement '^'"^ American army, about six thousand strong, began 
of the to retrace its steps towards the enemy, on tlie 8th of Sep- 
army '*^'*" tember, and reached Stillwater the next day. The march 
was made in good order, and the character of the corps 
seemed renovated; courage and confidence having taken 
place of timidity and distrust. Tiie ground at this place 
was again examined, a' line for entrenchments traced, a 
fatigue of 1000 men put to work under Colonel Koscius- 
ko, and the following order was issued on the 10th. — 
*< Whether it may be immediately necessary to engage 
the enemy on this ground, or push them into Canada, 
tlie General has the firmest opinion that both officers and 
soldiers will be ready, at a moment's notice, to execute 
his commands.'* But in the progress of the woik it 
was discovered, that the low grounds were too exten- 
sive to permit the occupancy of the heights on our 
left, without weakening our centre, and that by adopt- 
ing the alternative, we shoidd be exposed either to be 
forced or flanked : the position was therefore condemn- 
ed as untenable, before a different one had been se- 
lected. It happened that I had, on the retreat of the 
army, taken notice of a narrow defile, two or three miles 
in our front, formed by a spur of the hills, jutting out 
close to the river. I communicated the cii'cumstance to 
the Geneial, and the ground was reconnoitred and ap- 
proved ; and on the 12th the army took possession of 
Behmus's lieights, destined to become the theatre of those 
hard fought actions, which were to decide the fate of the 
campaign. 

The General had received no information of the situa- 
tion of the enemy, subsequent to the visit of Doctor 
Wood, at which time Burgoyne occupied Duer's house, 
at old Fort Miller, his elite at Batten-kiln, opposite 
to Saratoga; in fact, he knew not whether they were 
advancing, retreating, or stationary. This circumstance 
, was embarrassing : parties of the riflemen had been 



GENERAL WILKINSON. 23S 

tried ; but bein^ strangers to the topography of the chap. 
country, they were at a loss for direction, and made no 
discovery. Having passed freqnently between Fort Ed- 
ward and Albany, and paid strict attention to the locali- 
ties of the route, I believed that I could conduct a recon- 
noitring party with effect, and proposed it to the Gene- 
ral, who approved my purpose, and accordingly after 
night-fall the same day, I marched with 150 infantry and 
twenty select riflemen, under that incomparable subal- 
tern Lieutenant John Hardin.* 

Under cover of a dark night, I advanced directly for 
Saratoga, and a little before day break I reached the sum- 
mit of a lofty Iieight, about 2 miles from that place, called 
Davocote. During a momentary pause to take breath, I 
heard the generale beat some distance in my front, which 
indicated a military movement; I therefore halted, and 
having formed my party in a wood on the flanks of the 
road, detached Lieutenant Hardin with his riflemen to 
my right, by the low grounds on the side of the river to 
make observations, and with an officer and three men I 
proceeded under cover of the wood on the heights, to the 
right bank of the Fish-kill (or creek) in the vicinity of 
Saratoga church. It was now broad day light ; I posted 
my men, to keep a look out towards tlie road on my 
right, and advancing cautiously, I discovered witliin 
three hundred yards of me on the opposite bank of the 
creekj a body of men drawn up under arms. At this mo- 
ment I heard the march beat, and casting my eyes to- 
wards the river, I perceived a column of the enemy de- 
scending from the heights below Batten-kill. These 
observations satisfied me General Burgoyne was ad- 
vancing, and I rejoined my scout, who informed me 
that two of the enemy's infantry were robbing a gar- 

* Afterwards General Hardin of Kentucky, an excellent officer 
and most valuable citizen, who having encountered a tliousand dan- 
gers in the service of his country, was treacherously murdered ia 
1791, by a party of Indians, as he approached Sandusky with a flag of 
truce and a talk from General Washington. A braver soldier never 
lived — a better man has rarely died. 
VOL. I. G g 



:Si MEMOIRS BY 

CHAP- den under the hill. We immediately made these men 
^'' prisoners, and marched back with them to the detach- 
ment at tlie licir^lits of Davocote, where I found Har- 
din who had made no discovery, and we returned to 
camp about noon. 

By these prisoners* General Gates was informed of 
General Burgoyne's intentions : that chief, after immense 
labour and unavoidable delays, had at length brought for- 
ward from Lake George to the Hudson's river his baggage, 
artillery, military stores, and a month's provisions, with 
a sufficiency of live stock and land and water transport, 
to move the whole; and thus equipped, he concentrated 
liis force, abandoned the communication with the lakes* 
which his numbers could not sustain, and crossed the 
riverf to prosecute his march to Albany, agreeably to his 
instructions. Our labours on the fortifications of our 
* camp were redoubled, in consequence of this advice, and 
calls for militia were transmitted to all quarters; the 
greater number of General Burgoyne's Indians had long 
• before deserted him, and the few who remained had lost 
their spirit of enterprize : this circumstance gave our 
^ riflemen so decided a superiority, that on his approach 
he could not make a motion without our knowledge, nor 
peep beyond his guards with safety. The condition of 
the two armies was precisely reversed ; and the Ameri- 
cans now enjoyed, in the rifle corps, all the advantages 
which the enemy had derived from. a cloud of barbarians 
at the opening of the campaign. 

* Extract nf a letter from General Gates to General Lincoln, dated 
Jielanvs's Ileights, Sept. loth, 1777. 

" This morning' Colonel Wilkinson brought me in three prisoners, 
soldiers of the 20th reg'iment ; he took them within a small distance 
of General Schuyler's house : they declare General Burgoyne was to 
march this morning towards Stillwater. This intelligence is further 
confirmed by two men lately come from the enemy's camp : they are 
also all in one story with regard to General Burgoyne's having col- 
lected his whole force at and near Saratoga. 

t See his letter to Lord George Germain, dated Albany, Oct. 20tb, 

-i777. 



GENERAL WILKINSON. ^3 

General Burgoyne crossed the Hudson's river the 13th CHAP, 
and 14th of September, and advanced with great circum- ^^• 
spection on the 15th from Saratoga to Davocote, where j, , 
lie halted to repair bridges in his front. The 16th was Bur- 
employed on this labour, and in reconnoitring: on the£°^"^^ ^ 

* •' •-> movement 

17th he advanced a mile or two, resumed his march on ^I'om Sa- 
the 18th, and General Arnold was detached by General Davocote 
Gates, with 1 500 nyen, to harass him ; but after a light 
skirmish, he returned without loss or effecting any thing 
more, than picking up a few stragglers : and the enemy Descrlp- 
moved forward and encamped in two lines, about two *^^" °^his 
miles from General Gates ^ his left on the river, and his 
right extending at right angles to it, across the low 
grounds about six hundred yards to a range of steep and 
lofty heights occupied by his elite, having a creek or 
guUey in his front, made by a rivulet which issued from 
a great ravine, formed by the hills which ran in a direc- 
tion nearly parallel to the river, until within half a mile 
of the American camp. 

General Gates's right occupied the brow of the hill Descrip. 
near the river, with which it was connected by a deep Qgne^al 
intrenchment ; his camp, in the form of a segment of a Gates's 
great circle, the convex towards the enemy, extended *^^"^^' 
rather obliquely to his rear, about three-fourths of a mile 
to a knoll occupied by his left ; his front was covered 
from the right to the left of the centre, by a sharp ravine 
rcmniug parallel with his line and closely wooded : from 
thence to the knoll at his extreme left, the ground was 
level and had been partially cleared, some of the trees 
being felled and others girdled, beyond which in front of 
his left flank, and extending to the enemy's right, there 
w^ere several small fields in very imperfect cultivation, 
the surface broken and obstructed with stumps and fallen 
timber, and the whole bounded on the west by a steep 
eminence. The extremities of this camp were defended 
by strong batteries, and the interval was strengtliened 
by a breastwork without intrenchments, constructed of 
the bodies of felled trees, logs and rails, with an addi- 
tional battery at an opening left of tlie centre. The right 



g36 MEMOIRS BY 

CHAP, was almost impracticable; the left difficult of approach. 
^^- I describe the defences of this position as they appeared 
about the 4lh of October. 

The intermediate space between the adverse armies on 
the low grounds of the river was open and in cultivation; 
the high land was clothed in its native woods, with the 
exception of three or four small, newly opened and de- 
serted farms, separated by intervals of woodland, and bor- 
dering on the flanks of the two armies, most remote from 
the river; the principal of these was an oblong field, belong- 
ing to a person of the name of Freeman; there was also, 
exclusive of the ravines fronting the respective camps, a 
third ravine, about mid-way between them, running at 
right angles to the river. The intervening forest render- 
ed it utterly impracticable to obtain a front view of the 
American position, or any pait of the Britisli except its. 
left near the river. On tlie 18th Lieutenant-colonel Col- 
burn, of the New Hampshire line, was detached to the 
cast side of the river with a light party to observe tiie 
movements of the enemy, by climbing forest trees or 
other practicable means, with orders to report such ob- 
servations as he might consider worthy of notice. 
Further About 8 o'clock on the morning of the 19th Septem- 
movement (jgj.^ j received information from Colonel Colburn, that 
enemy. the enemy had struck the chief part of their tents on the 
plain near the river, had crossed the gulley at the gorge 
of the great ravine, and were ascending the heights in a 
direction towards our left. On making this communica- 
tion to tlie General, he immediately ordered Colonel 
Morgan to advance with his corps, who was instructed, 
shoidd he find the enemy approaching, to hang on their 
fr<mt and flanks, to retard their march, and cripple them 
as much as possible. 
Action About half after twelve o'clock, a report of small 

arms announced Morgan's corps to be engaged in front 
of our left; the General with his suite was at this time 
examining the battery which had been commenced on our 
left: I asked leave to repair to tlie scene of action, but 
was refused with this observation, "It is your duty, Sir, 



com- 
mences 



GENERAL WILKINSON. S37 

to wait my orders." This firing was of short duration, chap. 
but was soon recommenced with redoubled vivacity : I ^'^ 
then made an excuse to visit the picket on the left for in- 
telligence, put spurs to my horse, and directed by the 
sound, had entered the wood about an hundred rods, when 
the fire suddenly ceased : I however pursued my course, 
and the first officer I fell in with was Major Dearborn, 
who, with great animatit)n and not a little warmth, was 
forming tbirty or forty file of his infantry : I exchanged 
a few words with him, passed on and met Major Mor- 
ris alone, who was never so sprightly as under a hot 
fire; from him I learnt that the corps was advancing by 
files in two lines, when they unexpectedly fell upon a 
picket of the enemy, which they almost instantly forced, 
and pursuing the fugitives, their front had as unexpect- 
edly fallen in with the British line; that several officers 
and men had been made prisoners, and that to save him- 
self, he had been obliged to push his horse through the 
ranks of the enemy, and escaped by a circuitous route. 
To shew me where the action commenced, he leaped a 
fence into the abandoned field of Freeman, choked up 
with weeds, and led me to the cabin which had been oc- 
cupied by the British picket, but was then almost encir- 
cled with dead ; he then cautioned me to keep a look out 
for the enemy, who he observed could not be far from 
us; and as I never admired exp(»sition from which nei- 
•ther advantage nor honour could be derived, 1 crossed 
the angle of the field, leapt the fence, and just before me 
on a ridge discovered Lieutenant-colonel Butler with 
three men, all tree'd; from him I learnt that they had 
<• caught a Scotch prize," that having forced the picket, 
they had closed with the British line, had been instantly 
routed, and from the suddenness of the shock and the na- 
ture of the ground, were broken and scattered in all di- 
rections ; he repeated Morris's caution to me, and re- 
marked that the enemy's sharpshooters were on the op- 
posite side of the ravine, and that being on horseback, I 
should attract a shot. We changed our position, and the 
Colonel inquired what were Morgan's orders, and in- 



S38 MEMOIRS BY 

CHAP, formed me that he had seen a heavy column moving to« 
^'' wards our left. I then turned about to regain the camp, 
and repoi't to the General, when my ears were saluted 
by an uncommon noise, which I approached, and per- 
ceived Colonel Morgan attended by two men only, who 
with a turkey calif* was collecting his dispersed troops. 
The moment I came up to him, he burst into tears, and 
exclaimed, « I am ruined, by G — d ! Major Morris ran 
on so rapidly with the front, that tliey were beaten be- 
fore I could get up with tiie rear,j and my men are 
scattered God knows where." I remarked to the Colonel 
that he had a long day before him to retrieve an inaus- 
picious beginning, and informed him where I had seen 
his field officers, which appeared to cheer him, and we 
parted. 

Having reported to the General, he ordered out Cil- 
ley's and Scammel's regiments, of New Hampshire, to 
march and fall in on the left of Morgan, for which pur- 
pose I gave them the best direction my observation on 
the ground enabled me to do. These regiments advanced 
through the woods, took ground on the left of Morgan, 
and the action was renewed about one o'clock, and 
was supported with spirit, though subject to occasional 
pauses, as the troops on either side advanced, retired, 

* An instrument made for decoying the wild turkey. 

f It was the invariable rule of Colonel Morgan when marching to 
action, to bring up the rear of his corps. As this mode was singular, 
I took occasion to enquire into his motives, and he answered me 
briefly, they were "to see that every man did his duty, and that 
cowards did not lag behind, whilst brave men were fighting." Very 
different was the general conduct of Mons. Greder, who for many 
years commanded Marslial Saxe's French regiment of infantry. " It 
was his rule (says the marshal) to receive the fire of the enemy, and 
sword in hand, to charge at the head of his colours, calling on his 
men to follow him."' The first case supposes the men advancing in 
quest of an enemy, the last that they are formed to make or receive 
the att.ick. Grader's manner was the most brilliant, Morgan's cer- 
tainly the most judicious. Except in cases of extraordinary pres- 
sure, it is the duty of the subordinate to lead, and the superior to 
. direct : extraordinary cases alone authorize a departure, and the ju- 
cicious officer will always avail himself of it— no rule can teach it. 



GENERAL WILKINSON. S39 

and sliifted their ground. Halcs's regiment of New GHAP. 
Hampshire, Van Courtland's and Henry Livingston's of ^^' 
New York, and Cook's and Latimer's of the Connecti- 
cut militia, were sarcessively led to the field, with or- 
ders to extend to the left, and support those points of the 
action, where they perceived the greatest pressure ; our 
right heing secured by thickets and ravines. About three 
o'clock the action became general; and from that period 
Until night fall, the fire of the musketry was incessant; 
the enemy brought four field pieces into the engagement, 
but on our side the ground was impracticable to artillery. 
Towards evening General Learned's Avhole brigade was 
ordered out, consisting of Bailey's, Weston's, and Jack- 
son's regiments, of Massachusetts, and James Living- 
ston's of New York, together with Marshall's regiment 
of Patterson's brigade and the Massachusetts line. These 
troops got into action with a part of the British light 
corps, which had kept its ground to cover Burgoyne's 
right, and a column of Germans, whom he had drawn 
from his left just about sunset, and of consequence they 
were but lightly engaged, as is manifest from their loss. 
If these columns had met at an earlier hour of the day, 
something decisive must have taken place, the ground 
being somewhat open and on the right flank of the ene- 
my. We had about three thousand men on the field, and 
the enemy, from General Burgoyne's account, about 
three thousand five hundred ; on our part, the stress of 
the action Ml upon Morgan's corps and Poor's brigade, 
and on that of the enemy it was chiefly sustained by Ha- 
milton's brigade, consisting of the 20th, 21st, and 62d 
British infantry, with a brigade of artillery under Cap- 
tain Jones, who was killed. 

This battle was perfectly accidental ; neither of the The ac- 
generals meditated an attack at the time, a.id but for gffecfo^f 
Lieutenant-colonel Colburn's report, it would not have accident 
takt'H place; Burgoyne's movement being merely to take 
ground on the heights in front of the great ravine, to 
give his several corps their prt*per places in line, to em- 
brace our front and cover his transport, stores, provi- 



340 MEMOIRS BY 

CHAP, sions and baggage in rear of his left; and on our side 
^^ the defences of our camp being not half completed and 
reinforcements daily arriving, it was not General Gates's 
policy to court an action. The misconception of the ad- 
verse chiefs put them on the defensive, and confined them 
to the ground they casually occupied at the beginning of 
the action, and prevented a single manoeuvre, during one 
of the longest, warmest, and most obstinate battles fought 
in America. General Gates believed that bis antagonist 
intended to attack him, and circumstances appeared to 
justify the like conclusion on the part of Burgoyne; and 
as the thickness and depth of the intervening wood con- 
cealed the position and movements of either army from 
its adversary, sound caution obliged the respective com- 
manders to guard every assailable point; thus the flower 
of the British army, the grenadiers and light infantry, 
one thousand five hundred strong, were posted on an emi- 
nence to cover its right, and stood by their arms, inac- 
tive spectators of the conflict until near sunset ; while 
General Gates was obliged to keep his right wing on 
post, to prevent the enemy from forcing that flank, by 
the plain bordering on the river. Had either of the ge- 
nerals been properly apprised of the dispositions of his 
antagonist, a serious blow might have been struck on 
our left or the enemy's right; but although nothing is 
more common, it is as illiberal as it is unjust, to deter- 
mine the merits of military operations by events exclu- 
sively. It was not without experience that the Romans 
erected temples to Fortune. Later times might afford 
motives for edifices, in which genius or wisdom would 
have no votaries. 
The scene The theatre of action was such, that although the corn- 
described, batants changed ground a dozen times in the course of 
the day, the contest terminated on the spot where it be- 
gan. This may be explained in a few words. The Bri- 
tish line was formed on an eminence in a thin pine wood, 
having before it Freeman's farm, an oblong field stretch- 
ing from the centre towards its right, the ground in front 
sloping gently down to the verge of this field, which was 



, GENERAL WILKINSON. %U 

bordered on the opposite side by a close wood ; the san- CHAP, 
guinary scene lay in the cleared ground, between the 
eminence occupied by the enemy and the wood just de- 
scribed J the fire of our marksmen from this wood was 
too deadly to be withstood by the enemy in line, and 
when they gave way and broke, our men rushing from 
their covert, pursued them to the eminence, where, having 
their flanks protected, they rallied, and charging in turn 
drove us back into the wood, from whence a dreadful fire 
would again force them to fall back ; and in this manner 
did the battle fluctuate, like waves of a stormy sea, with 
alternate advantage for four hours without one moment's 
intermission. The British artillery fell into our posses- 
sion at every charge, but we could neither turn the pieces 
upon the enemy, nor bring them off*; the wood prevented 
the last, and the want of a match the first, as the lint- 
stock was invariably carried off*, and the rapidity of the 
transitions did not allow us time to provide one. The 
slaughter of this brigade of artillerists was remarkable, 
the captain and thirty-six men being killed or wounded 
out of forty-eight. It was truly a gallant conflict, in 
which death by familiarity lost his terrors, and certainly 
a drawn battle, as night alone terminated it; (he British 
army keeping its ground in rear of the field of action, 
and our corps, when they could no longer distinguish ob- 
jects, retiring to their own camp. — Yet General Bur- 
goyrie claimed a victory, as may be seen by the following 
letters* to Brigadier-general Powell, commanding atTi- 
conderoga. 

• Prior to the action of the 19th, Lieutenant Hardin had been de- 
tached with a light party to the rear of the British arnriy, to take a 
prisoner, and pick up intelligence. On his return near Saratoga, the 
22ti, he met an Indian courier in a path on the summit of a sharp 
ridge; they were within a few paces, presented and fiied at the same 
instant ; the Indian fell, and Hardin escaped with a scratch of his an- 
tagonist's b{.ll on his left side; the letters of Burgoynt; lo Powell, 
and several others were found in the shot pouch of the dead Indian, 
and dtlivered by the Lieutenant at head quarters. 
VOL. I. H h 



S4S MEMOIRS BY 

CHAP. 

VI- (( Camp near Stillwater, Sept, 20, 1777. 

« Dear Sir, 
General « 1 take the first opportunity to inform you we have 
goyne's '^^^^ ^ smart and very honourable action, and are now en- 
account of camped in the front of the field, which must demonstrate 
' our victory beyond the power of even an American news- 
writer to explain away. 

<« The loss on either side cannot be particularly ascer- 
tained. 

« Be so good as to give Sir Guy Carleton an ac- 
count of this event, with my respects to him, till I can 
have an opportunity of sending him the particulars by a 
safe conveyance. 

<( I am, Dear Sir, with great esteem, 

" Your most obedient servant, 
« J. BURGOYNE." 

« Camp near Stillwater, Sept. 21, ±77T< 
*• Dear Sir, 

« I hear the enemy is not a little disconcerted with the 
reception they met with in the action of the 19th. We 
found five hundred of their bodies the morning after. 

« Had the action happened nearer the Hudson's river 
than it did, so that the left column, which moved near the 
shore, could have been brought into action early, not a 
man had escaped. It is said they are in some force of 
militia towards Connecticut, with a detachment at Pau- 
let. If so press on St. Leger to put in execution the plan 
of his instructions. 

« Having writ to you more at large yesterday, I have ; 
only to add my good wishes and have the honour to be, 
« Dear Sir, 

*< Your most obedient servant 
« J. BURGOYNE." 

To correct these illusions of General Burgoyne, 
will beg leave to introduce a letter which I wrote th< 



GENERAL WILKINSON. ^43 

day after the action to Colonel Visclier, chairman of chap. 
the committee at Albany, by order of General Gates, in ^i. 
which there could be no interest to deceive j but should ^■^"^''"^^ 
this document fail of effect, then the following official let- 
ter of General Gates and the return [D] of killed and 
wounded must remove all doubts. 



" Camp 4 miles above Stillwater, Sept. 20, 1777. 
*'i Dear Sir, 
« General Gates beinc extremely hurried has desired Colonel 

Wilkin- 

me to answer your letter of this day. Tlie committee gg^'s ac- 
have his hearty thanks for their attention paid to the count of 
wounded. The wagons they have sent on will meet ^f^thg igtl^ 
them at Stillwater, to which place they have been sent in Sept. 1777. 
boats. The General is sensible that the committee will 
afford tlie director-general. Dr. Potts, every assistance 
in their power, whose care and attention to those unfor- 
tunate brave men, deserves the liighest credit. 

« Being yesterday informed by our reconnoitring par- 
ties that the enemy had struck their camp and were ad- 
vancing towards our left, the General detached Colo- 
nel Morgan's light corps to examine their direction and 
harass their advance. This party at half past twelve fell 
in with a picket of the enemy which they immediately 
drove, and after a brisk fire were beat back by a strong 
reinforcement. This skirmish drew a regiment from our 
camp, and the main body of the enemy to support the 
action, which after a short cessation was renewed with 
double ardour, and continued incessant till the close of 
the day, when our men retired to camp, and the enemy a 
small distance in rear of tlie field. The succour which 
we occasionally detached amounted to eleven continental 
and two militia regiments. I have not yet obtained a re- 
turn, but have reason to believe that our killed do not ex- 
ceed eighty, and that the missing and wounded do not 
amount to two hundred. The concurrent testiniony of 
the prisoners and deserters of various characters, assures 



^1,4! MEMOIRS BY 

CHAP, ws, that General Burgoyne who commanded in persou 
VI was wounded* in the left shoulder, that the 62d regiment 
^'^'^''^^^ was cut to pieces, and that the enemy suffered extremely 
in every quarter where they were engaged. As General 
Burgoyne*s situation will shortly constrain him to a de- 
cisive action, reinforcements should be immediately push- 
ed forward to our assistance, as our numbers are far from 
being equal to an insurance t)f victory, and every bosom 
must anticipate the consequances of a defeat. The ene- 
my have quietly licked their sores this day. 

*i The news of the taking* of Ticonderoga is corrobo- 
rated by several prisoners, and as an attack was design- 
ed on that post, I am inclined to believe it. 
" I am. Dear Sir, &c. 

« JAMES WILKINSON. 
ii Colonel Matt. Vischer.''^ 



Extract of a letter from Major-general Gates to the honour- 
able John Hancock, President of Congress, dated Camp, 
Heights above BehmanSf Sept. 22d, 1777. 

« Friday morning I was informed by my reconnoitring 
parties, that the enemy had struck their camp, ajid were 
removing towards our left. I immediately detached Co- 
lonel Morgan's corps, consisting of the rifle regiment 
and the light infantry of the army, to observe their direc- 
tion, and harass their advance. This part} at half-past 
twelve, fell in witli a picket of the enemy, which they 
immediately drove; but the enemy being reinforced, after 
a brisk conflict they were in turn obliged to retire. This 
skirmish drew the main body of the enemy, and a bri- 
gade from my left, to support the action, which after a 
short cessation, was renewed with great warmth and vio- 
lence. At this instant, hearing fi-om prisoners that the 
whole British force and a division of foreigners, had en- 

* This was an error, it was Captain Green aid-de-camp to Gene- 
ral Philips, who was wounded. 



GENERAL WILKINSON. 2^5 

gaged our party, I reinforced with four more regiments, chap. 
This continued the action till the close of day, wlien both ^''• 
armies retired from the field. Inclosed is a return of our 
loss, and I am well assured, by the concurrent testimony 
of prisoners and deserters of various characters, that Ge- 
neral Burgoyne, who commanded in person, received a 
wotmd in his left shoulder — that the 62d regiment was 
cut to pieces, and that the enemy suffered extremely in 
every quarter where they were engaged. The general 
good behaviour of the troops on this important occasion, 
cannot be surpassed by the most veteran army : to dis- 
criminate in praise of the officers would be injustice, as 
they all deserve the honour and applause of Congress : 
Lieutenant-colonel Colburn, and Lieutenant-colonel 
Adams, with the rest of the unfortunate brave who fell 
in their country's cause, leave a lasting monument to 
their glory. The armies remain encamped within two 
miles of each other. 

« This instant I wrote to all the neighbouring states, 
and pressingly demanded the immediate march of tlieir 
militia. When proper reinforcements arrive, I hope to 
give your excellency more interesting intelligence. In- 
closed is a return of the army, which but barely equals 
that of the enemy." 

It is worthy of remark, that not a single general officer was No gene- 

on thejield of battle the 19th Sept. until the evening, when '^^lu^i^i^j 

General Learned was ordered out; about the spme time of battle 

Generals Gates and Arnold were in front of the centre of ^'^^ ^^^ 

evening, 

the camp, listening to the peal of small arms, when Colo- 
nel M. Lewis* deputy quarter-master general returned 
froni the field, and being questioned by the General, he 
reported the undecisive progress of the action j at which 
Arnold exclaimed, « by G — d I will soon put an end to it,''* 
and clapping spurs to his horse, gallopped off at full 
speed i Colonel Lewis immediately observed to General 

• Late Major-general in the Uuited States service 



S16 



MEMOIRS BY 



CHAP. 
VI. 



Action 
sustained 
by indivi- 
dual cou- 
rage ra- 
ther than 
military 
3kill. 



Death of 

Ensign 
Phillips, a 
wounded 
prisoner. 



_Reflec- 
tions 
: hereon. 



Gates, << you had better order him back, the action is 
going well, he may by some rash act do mischief." I 
was instantly despatched, overtook, and remanded Ar- 
nold to camp. This battle then, was fought by the gene- 
ral concert and zealous co-operation of the corps engag- 
ed, and was sustained more by individual courage than 
military discipline, for it will be seen by reference to the 
return of killed and wounded, that Colonel Cook's regi- 
ment of Connecticut militia, suffered more than any other, 
except the intrepid Cilley's ; in the course of the day pri- 
soners were made on both sides. We had three officers* 
and twenty privates taken, and we captured upwards of 
an hundred of the enemy. 

The morning after the action, I visited the wounded 
prisoners who had not been dressed, and discovered a 
charming youth not more than 16 years old, lying among 
them ; feeble, faint, pale and stiff in his gore, the delica- 
cy of his aspect, and the quality of his clothing attracted 
my attention, and on enquiry, I found he was an Ensign 
Phillips ; he told me he had fallen by a wound in his leg 
or thigh, and as he lay on the ground was shot through 
the body by an army follower, a murderous villain, who 
avowed the deed, but I forgot his name ; the moans of 
this hapless youth affected me to tears ; I raised him from 
the straw on which he lay, took him in my arms and re- 
moved him to a tent, where every comfort was provided 
and every attention paid to him, but his wounds were 
mortal, and he expired on the 21st; when his name was 
first mentioned to General Gates, he exclaimed "just 
Heaven ! he may be the nephew of my wife," but the fact 
was otherwise. 

Let those parents who are now training their children 
for the military profession ; let those misguided patriots, 
who are inculcating principles of education subversive of 
the foundations of the republic, look on this picture of 



* Captain Vanswearingen and Lieutenant Moore of Morgan's corps, 
and Captain Jason Watts of Cilley's regiment. 



GENERAL AVILKINSON. 34,7 

Uistrcss, taken from tlie life, of a youth in a strange land, chap. 
far removed from friends and relations, co-mingled with ^^^ 
tlie dying and the dead, himself wounded, helpless and 
expiring with agony, and then sliould political considera- 
tions fail of effect, I hope, the feelings of affection and the 
obligations of humanity, may induce them to discounte- 
nance the pursuits of war, and save their offspring from 
the seductions of the plume and the sword, for the more 
solid and useful avocations of civil life ; by which alone 
peace and virtue and the republic can be preserved, and 
perpetuated. — A dupe during my whole life, to the preju- 
dices I now reprobate, I speak from experience, and dis- 
charge a conscientious duty, when I warn my country 
against military enthusiasm, and the pride of arms; and 
against the arts and intrigues by which the yeomanry, the 
palladium of tlie republic, are depreciated, and standing 
armies and navies are encouraged. — For what would it 
avail the citizens of the United States, if, in a political 
frenzy, they should barter their rights and liberties for 
national renown? And who would exchange the blessings 
of freedom, for the repute of having eclipsed the whole 
human race, in feats of valour and deeds of arms ? This 
is a serious question ! It affects the vital interests of every 
freeman, and the course of the government makes it pro- 
per and necessary, that the citizens of these states should 
pause and reflect before it be too late ; we have escaped 
from one war with a crippled constitution ; the next will 
probably destroy itj therefore, let the motto of the state 
be PEACE. 

The authentic return which is presented to the reader 
will exhibit our loss of killed, wounded and missing; and 
the names of the meritorious officers who fought and bled 
on that memorable day, are recorded that they may be 
handed down to posterity, in honour of their families and 
descendants ; frequently in the course of this action did I see 
private men, after getting their wounds bound up, return 
to tlie field of battle ; our whole loss was reported at 65 
killed, 21 8 wounded and 38 missing, but of the last fifteen 



g48 MEMOIRS BY 

CHAP. y/^YQ killed ; and I learned from Lieutenant-colonel King- 
^^^-^^--^t^ ston, General Burgoyne's adjutant -general, after the con- 
vention of Saratoga, that the British loss was 600 killed 
and wounded, but before the House of Commons he states 
the number at 500, or upwards. 

Several incidents occurred immediately before and 
after the action of the 19th of September, which may 
be worthy of record ; of these the conduct of the he- 
roes of Bennington, was not the least extraordinary. 
General General Lincoln who had been detached to the Harap- 
proiects a shire grants, as has been observed, projected an enter 
successful prise against the enemy's post, at the north end of Lake 
agatnstthe George, which was handsomely executed by Colonel 
enemy. Brown; who, on the 18th September surprised and made 
prisoners a considerable part of four companies of the 
53d British regiment, released 100 prisoners, and 
took an armed sloop with several sea officers ; thence he 
pushed his operations in concert with Colonel Johnson, 
against Ticonderoga, and Mount Independence, but for 
want of suitable artillery and munitions of war, he could 
make no impression on those posts. Previous to this en- 
terprise, the movements of General Burgoyne, had in- 
duced General Gates to order a junction of the militia 
from the Hampshire grants, with the main body, in con- 
sequence of which General Stark, by easy marches and a 
circuitous route, reached head-quarters with his corps on 
the morning of the 18th, the day preceding the action. 
The army was animated by the arrival of a band of citi- 
zen-soldiers who had conquered the Germans and killed 
their commander near Bennington ; but the term of ser- 
vice, for which these men were engaged, expired with the 
day, and every exertion was made, to induce them, to 
wait the event of an action, which was daily expected ; 
but to the exhortations of the commander in chief, and 
the persuasions of many other officers, no decisive reply 
Departure could be obtained. Genera! Stark and his subordinates, 
litia the ** thovght it proper, and necessarij they should adhere to 
day pre- the scrvice," but I observed they employed no influcncje 



GENERAL WILKINSON. 2i9 

to promote the end, which was in effect to discourage it ; chap. 
the men communicated with each other in whispers, and ^* 
a buz was heard around their fires j for they had neither ^j^^g ^^ 
iinj)acked the baggage which they carried on their backs, tlie action, 
nor laid down to repose ; I left this hord of hardy free- totheo'fti- 
mcn, about 11 o'clock, determined to watch the result, cers. 
and about 5 minutes after 12, I discovered them in mo- 
tion, the aid-de-camp of the General called for the parole, 
to pass the guards of the camp, and I verily believe nei- 
ther officer nor private was left behind ; nor could they 
have been beyond the sound of the action when it began, 
yet not a man returned. This punctuality of the father, 
the husband and the son, who till their own ground and 
enjoy the sweets of domestic life, is not reprehensible, 
since it is enjoined by an irresistible impulse of nature. 
These citizens had fought once, and having served the* 
term of their engagement, were desirous to tell the tale 
of «< feats performed," and look into their private affairs, 
after which they were ready again to take arms; when 
the agents of the government shall cease to sacrifice the 
interests of the public to the spirit of faction; when the 
sacred obligations which every man owes to the defence 
of the country, shall produce an impartial distribution of 
duties among all the people, and call forth the yeoman- 
ry by salutary laws, in seasonable requisitions, then there 
will be no chasms in the ranks of the militia, numbers 
will always follow an exact and well defined rotation, 
and punctuality in service will become a point of honour. 

On the morning of the 20th about 7 o'clock, a deserter Arrival of 
was escorted through a thick fog to the adjutant-gene- jg^gp\eJ 
ral's quarters; he was from the 62d regiment; his paint- 
ed lips shewed that he had been uncapping cartridges 
\\ith his teeth, and had not since washed his face : on his 
examination he declared, "that he had been in the whole 
of the action the day before, that after night all the 
wounded and the women had been removed to the en- 
campment and hospital tents near the river, and that 
fresh ammunition had been served to the troops who had 
VOL. I. 1 i 



250 MEMOIRS BY 

CHAP, been engaged (as a proof of which he shewed his car- 
^ ' tridg-e box with 60 rounds); that lie had left the ranks 
not 15 minutes before, pretending an occasion of nature; 
that the whole army was under arms, and orders had 
been-given for the attack of our lines ; that the mutiny 
act had been read at tiie head of each corps, and that 
they expected to march in ten minutes." He appeared 
to be much alarmed, and begged to be discharged with a 
pass, declaring that we should have « the grenadiers at 
our lines on the left, in fifteen minutes." Full credit was 
given to the report, and our lines were manned, and the 
troops exhorted ; but we were badly fitted to defend 
works, or meet the close rencontre; the late hour at 
which the action closed the day before, the fatigue of offi- 
cers and men, and the defects of our organization, had 
-prevented the left wing from drawing ammunition, and 
we could not boast of more than a bayonet for every 
three muskets; the fog obscured every object at the short 
distance of twenty j ards. We passed an hour of awful 
expectation and suspense, during which, hope, fear and 
anxiety played on the imagination: many could hear the 
movement of the enemy, and others could discern through 
the floating mist the advance of their column; but be- 
tween eight and nine o'clock the sun dispersed the va- 
pour, and we had no enemy in view; the repoit of the 
deserter was discredited, and the troops dismissed; and 
yet his information was circumstantially correct, as is 
proved by the following autlientic facts. 
The de- In the summer after the convention of Saratoga, I was 
coutu con' dining with Major-general Phillips, at his quarters in Cam- 
firmed af- bridge, near Boston, when the conversation turning upon 
by Major ow^' Campaign on the Hudson's river, he was remarking, 
Philips in by^r often the fortune of war and the fate of empires were 
sation determined by circumstances trivial and unexpected ; and 
withWil- jjy ^yj^y of illustration he gave me the following anec- 
dote : — « After the affair of the 19th September termi- 
nated, General Burgoyne determined to attack you the 
next morning on your left, with his whole force; our 
wounded, and sick, and women had been disposed of at 



GENERAL WILKINSON. §51 

tlie river ^ tlie army was formed early on the morning of CHAP, 
the 20th, and we waited only for the dispersion of the ^'^• 
fog, when General Eraser observed to General Bur- 
goyne, that the grenadiers and light infantry who were 
to lead the attack, appeared fatigued by the duty of the 
preceding day, and that if he would suspend the operation 
until the next morning, he was persuaded they would 
carry the attack with more vivacity. Burgoyne yielded 
to the proposition of Eraser; the orders were counter- 
manded, and the corps returned to camp ; and as if in- 
tended for your safety and our destruction, in the course 
of the night a spy reached Burgoyne with a letter from 
General Sir Henry Clinton,* advising him of his in- 

* Copy of a letter from General Burgoyne to Sir Henry Clinton, Sept. 
23d, 1777.— 'received Oct. 5th. 

" Have lost the old cypher, but being sure from the tenor of your 
letter you meant it so to be read, I have made it out — -An attack, or 
the menace of an attack, upon Montgomery, must be of great use, 
as it will draw away a part of this force, and I will follow them close. 
Do it my dear friend directly. Yours ever faithfully. J. B." 

From the Same to the Same, Sept. 2^th, 1777. — received Oct. 5th, 1777. 

" The bearer, Captain Campbell, an officer of great merit and full 
confidence, is charged with an exact duplicate of my message to your 
excellency despatched yesterday by another officer. I request the 
most speedy answer by triplicate. Believe me, &c. 

"J. BURGOYNE." 

Copy of a conversation held between Captain Campbell and Sir Henry 

Clinton. 

" Captain Campbell was desired by General Burgoyne to tell me, 
Ihat the general's whole army did not exceed 5000 men ; that the 
consequences of the battle on the 19th, was the loss of between five 
and six hundred men, that the enemy was wiihin a mile and an half 
of him; that he knew not their certain numbers, but believed them 
to be twelve or fourteen thousand men ; that there was besides a con- 
siderable body in his rear; that he wished to receive my orders whe- 
ther he should attack or retreat to the lakes ; that he had but provi- 
sion to the 20th of this month, and that he would not have given up 
his «ommunications with Ticonderoga, had he not expected a co-ope- 
rating army at Albany ; that he wished to know my positive answet 
as soon as possible, whether I could open a communication with Al- 



3;7;e MEMOIRS BY 

CHAP, tended expedition agaijist the highlands, which deten*' 
^' mined Biugoyiie to postpone the meditated attack of 
your army, and wait events ; the .golden, glorious oppor- 
tunity was lost — you grew stronger every day, and on 
the 7th of October overwhelmed us." 

General Burgoyne in his defence admits these facts 
substantially, and what an extraordinary coincidence 
of circumstances do they unfold. The apparent fa- 
tigue of tiie grenadiers, who it was true had stood 
by their arms the day before, but had rested all night, 
must have been rather affected than real, but their con- 
dition gained time for the arrival of Clinton's messen- 
ger, whose every step was taken at tlie peril of his 
life, and yet he escaped our vigilance, and reached 
General Burgoyne in season to prevent the proposed at- 
tack of the 21st, and in the mean time we completed our 
lines, and received a considerable accession of strength ; 
Probable but if General Burgoyne had attacked us on the 20th or 
General 21st of September, as he intended, his force would have 
Bur- enabled him to lead a column of 5000 rank and file against 

attack, o"i' l^ft, where the ground was most favourable to his 
liad he approach ; whilst a feint on our right, by the plain near 

made it on /' . _, , , , ^ ,. 

the 20th the river, would have kept every man at his station 

or 21st. vvitliin our extensive lines ; and under such advantages 

on his side, it is highly probable, he would have gained 

a decisive victory, and taken our artillery and baggage; 

bany, when I should be there, and when there keep my communica- 
tion with New York; that if he did not hear from me by the 15th inst. 
he should retire. — To which I returned the following answer by Cap- 
tain Campbell, viz. That not having received any itistructions from the 
coinmander in chief respecting the northern army, and imacqiininted even 
■with his intentions respecting that army, except his wishes that they should 
get to Albany, Sir H. Clinton cannot presume to give any orders to 
General Burgoyne. General Burgoyne could not suppose Sir H Clin- 
ton had an idea of penetrating to Albany, with the small force he 
mentioned i' his last letter. What he offered in that letter he has 
now imdertaken : cannot by any means promise himself success, but 
hopes it will be at any rate serviceable to General Burgoyne, as Ge- 
neral Burgoyne says in his letter answering the offer (23d Sept.) 
that even the menace of an attack would be of service.'* See Pai'Kamen* 
tary Register, 1778, p. 245—247. 



GENERAL WILKINSON. g53 

;or although our numbers in rank and file exceeded six chap. 
thousand, the sick, casualties, and contingencies of the ^*' 
service, would not have left us more than five thousand 
five hundred men for defence ; and from the formation of 
our camp, by penetrating on the left, he would have cut 
off our right; and shall we presume to ascribe this cri- 
tical combination of incidents to mere accident, or the ca- 
price of fortune? — Presumptuous as well as blind must 
lie be who does so. 

The effects of the combat of the 1 9th Sept. in which 
resistance was interpreted into triumph by both armies, 
produced the most favourable consequences: the militia 
flocked to our camp, and a band of Oneida Indians join- 
ed our standard. These sons of the forest almost daily 
presented scalps and prisoners at head quarters, and their 
shocking death halloo resounded through our lines. Tliis 
was turning upon the. enemy, the vengeance which they 
had prepared to inflict upon us; but it was an inhuman 
resort against which my feelings revolted. 

About this time a difference took place between Gene- DlfFerence 
ral Gates and General Arnold, which terminated in a ^e*^"'^^^ 

General 

public quarrel, and may be traced to official presumption Gates and 
and conscious superiority on one side, and an arrogant ^'^"^[j^ 
spirit and impatience of command on the other. General 
Gates had, by a violent exertion of power, screened Ar- 
nold from disgrace the preceding campaign, and Arnold 
conceived he had by his voluntary perils and the eclat ac- 
quired in the command of the fleet on Lake Champlain, 
cancelled the obligation. Gates trusted to the confidence 
of Congress for the support of his authority, and Arnold 
relied on feats of arms and intrepidity of character for po- 
pular patronage. With such pretensions, the smallest spark 
of collision sufficed to light up the flames of discord. 

In perfect ignorance of any precedent arrangement, 
between General Gates and General Arnold, I had ob- 
served that the latter exercised command over the elite 
corps under Colonel Morgan, which was neither brigaded 
nor encamped in the line, and was of right and propriety 
responsible to head quarters only. These anomalies in- 



254) 



MEMOIRS BY 



CHAP. 
VI. 



terfered with the staff duties as well as general details,. 
and I mentioned the circumstance to General Gates, who, 
on the 22d September issued the following order, to es- 
tablish a perfect understanding of his intentions. 



GENERAL ORDER. 



General 
order of 



*< Colonel Morgan's corps not being attached to any 
22Tsept. brigade or division of the army, he is to make returns 
and reports to head quarters only ; from whence alone 
he is to receive orders." 



General 
Arnold's 
letter to 
General 
Gates. 



As soon as this order was banded to Arnold, he re- 
paired to head quarters in great warmth, asserted his 
pretensions to the command of the elite, and was ridi- 
culed by General Gates : high words and gross language 
ensued, and Arnold retired in a rage. The consequences 
of this interview will be best explained by the following 
correspondence, in which General Arnold hastily com- 
mitted himself, and General Gates seizing the advan- 
tage, occluded him from command. 

" Camp Stillwater, Sept. 22rf, 1777. 
« Sir, 

« When I joined the army at Vanschaick's Island, the 
first instant you were pleased to order me to Loudon's 
ferry to take the command of Generals Poor's and Learn- 
ed's brigade and Colonel Morgan's battalion of riflemen 
and light infantry. Your commands were immediately 
obeyed, I have repeatedly since received your orders re- 
specting the corps, as belonging to my division, which 
has often been mentioned in general orders,* and the 
gentlemen commanding those corps have understood 
themselves as my division. On the 9th instant you de- 
sired me to annex the New York and Connecticut mili- 
tia to such brigades as I thought proper in my division, 
which I accordingly did, and ordered the N©w York mi- 



This was not correct as related to Morgan's corps. 



GENERAL WILKINSON. 255 

litia to join General Poor's brigade, and the Connecticut chap. 
General Learned's. The next day I was surprised to ^'* 
observe in general orders, the New York militia annex- 
ed to General Glover's brigade, which placed me in the 
ridiculous light of presuming to give orders 1 had no 
right to do, and having them publicly contradicted, which 
I mentioned to you as I thought it a mistake of tlie depu- 
ty adjutant-general, you then observed that the mistake 
was your own, and that it should be mentioned as sucli 
in the ensuing orders, which has never been done. 

« On the 19th inst. when advice was received that the 
enemy were approaching, I took the liberty to give it as 
my opinion that we ought to marcli out and attack them. 
You desired me to send Colonel Morgan and the light in- 
fantry, and support* them ; I obeyed your orders ; and 
before the action was over, I found it necessary to send 
out the whole of my division to support the attack ; 
no other troops were engaged that day except Colonel 
Marshal's regiment of General Patterson's brigade. I 
have been informed that in the returns transmitted to 
Congress of the killed and wounded in the action, the 
troops were mentioned as a detachment from the army, 
and in the orders of this day I observe it is mentioned 
that Colonel Morgan's corps, not being in any brigade or 
division of this army, are to make returns and reports 
only to head-quarters from whence they are alone to re- 
ceive orders; although it is notorious to tlie whole army, 
they have been in and done duty with my division for 
some time past. 

*< AVhen I mentioned these matters to you this day, you 
were pleased to say in contradiction to your repeated or- 
ders, you did not know I was a Major-general or had 
any command in the army. I have ever supposed a Ma- 
jor-general's command of four thousand men, a proper 
division, and no detachment when composed of whole bri- 

This is incorrect in fact, as the orders went in detail from head- 
quarters, though it is not known what conversation passed between 
the Generals, 



356 MEMOIRS BY 

CHAP, gades, forming one wing of the army, and that tlie gene 
^^_^ ral and troops, if guilty of misconduct or cowardly beha 
viour in time of action were justly chargeable as a divi- 
sion. And that if on the other hand they behaved with 
spirit and firmness in action, they were justly entitled to 
the applause due to a proper division, not a detachment of 
the army. Had my division behaved ill, the other divi- 
sion of the army would have thought it extremely hard 
to have been amenable for their conduct. I mentioned 
tiiese matters as I wish justice done to the division as 
well as particular regiments or persons. 

« From what reason I know not (as I am conscious of 
no offence or neglect of duty,) I have lately observed 
little or no attention paid to any proposals I have thought 
it my duty to make for the public service, and when a 
measure I have proposed has been agreed to, it has been 
immediately contradicted. I have been received with the 
greatest coolness at head quarters, and often huffed in 
such a manner as must mortify a person with less pride 
than I have and in my station in the army. You observ- 
ed you expected General Lincoln in a day or two, when I 
should have no command of a division, that you thought 
me of little consequence to the army, and that you would 
with all your heart give me a pass to leave it, whenever 
I thought proper. As I find your observation very just, 
that I am not or that you wish me of little consequence 
in the army, and as I have the interest and safety of my 
country at heart I wish to be where I can be of the most 
service to her. I therefore, as General Lincoln is arriv- 
ed, have to request your pass to Philadelphia with ray 
two aid-de-camps and their servants, where 1 propose to 
join General Washington, and may possibly have it in 
my power to serve my country, although I am thought 
of no consequence in this department. 

« I am, with due respect. Sir, 

<« Your obedient servant, 
« B. ARNOLD. 
** Hon. Major-general Gates.'* 



CHAP. 
VL 



GENERAL WILKINSON. 257 

« 2Sd SepU 1777. 
« Sir, 

«« Major-general Arnold having desired permission for 
himself and aids-de-camp to go to Philadelphia, I have 
granted his request. His reasons for asking to leave 
the army at this time, shall with my answers be trans- 
mitted to your excellency. 

« I am, Sir, &c. 

« H. GATES. 
« The Hon. John Hancockf 

President of Congress J* 



** Head Quarters, 23i Sept. 1777. 
« Sir, 

« I did not receive your letter until I was going into 
bed last night. The permission you request for yourself 
and aids- de-camp to go to Philadelphia is inclosed. 
« I am, Sir, 

" Your obedient and humble servant, 
"HORATIO GATES. 
*< Hon, Major-general Arnold.^* 



« Camy Stillwater, Sept. 2Sd, ±777. 
« Sir, 

« When I wrote you yesterday I thought myself enti- 
tled to an answer, and that you would at least have con- 
descended to acquaint me with the reasons which have 
induced you to treat me with affront and indignity, in a 
public manner which I mentioned and which has been 
observed by many gentlemen of the army; I am conscious 
of none, but if I have been guilty of any crimes deserv- 
ing such treatment, I wish to have them pointed out, that 
I may have an opportunity of vindicating my conduct. I 
know no reason for your conduct unless I have been tra- 
duced by some designing villain. 
VOL. I. K fc 



^58 MEMOIRS BY 

CHAP. " I requested permission for myself and aids to go to 
^^' Philadelphia, instead of which you have sent me a letter 
^"^'^'"^^ to the honourable John Hancock, esq. which I have re- 
turned. If you have any letters for that gentleman 
which you think proper to send sealed, I will take charge 
of them. I once more request your permission for ray- 
self and aids to pass to Philadelphia. 
« I am. Sir, 

« Your obedient servant, 
« B. ARNOLD. 
*« Hon, Major-general QatesJ* 

*f Head quarters, Q3d Sept. 1777. 
ti Sir, 

<« You wrote me nothing last night but what had been 
sufficiently altercated between us in the evening. I then 
gave you such answers to all your objections as I tliink 
were satisfactory. I know not what you mean by insult 
or indignity. I made you such replies only as I conceiv- 
ed proper. As to the open letter I sent you to Mr. 
Hancock, it was the civilest method I could devise of ac- 
quainting Congress with your leaving the army. And is 
to all intents and purposes as full a pass as can be desir- 
ed. I sent it unsealed, as being the more complaisant to 
you, and is what is commonly done upon such occasions. 
That not being so agreeable to you as a common pass, I 
send you one inclosed. 

«• I am. Sir, &c. 

«H. GATES. 
« Hon, General Arnold." 

« Camp, Sept. 27thf 1777. 
« General Arnold presents his compliments to General 
Gates and needs not to be told that the commander in 
chief only, of the northern department, has a right to or- 
der payments. He conceives however, he had a right to 
offer a reward as it was done in the absence of General 
Schuyler, when General Arnold had the command of the 
army. He is surprised to find the justice of his certlfi- 



GENERAL WILKINSON. S59 

cate for the pitiful sum of fifty dollars disputed. Hebe- CHAP, 
lieves no other person could have suspected him guilty of ^^ 
a deceit sooner than they would have done General 
Gates. 
ti To the Hon. Major-general Gates,'" 

« Camp, QSth Sept. 1777. 
<« Sir, 

« I am surprised you should be offended at my answer 
to your certificate in favour of the continental soldier, who 
killed the Indian upon the retreat of the army from Fort 
Edward, since you know I was blamed last year for 
granting my warrants upon such certificates. As to the 
smallness of the sum, that is no reason for my breaking 
my instructions. The justice of your certificate, I have 
never called in question, nor suspected you of deceit in 
that particular ; so cannot see the shadow of a reason for 
the last part of your note. 

" I am. Sir, 

« Your humble servant, 
"H. GATES.'* 

*< Camp Stillwater f October 1, 1777. 
« Sir, 

« Notwithstanding the repeated ill treatment I have 
met with, and continued daily to receive, treated only as 
a cypher in the army, never consulted or acquainted witU 
one occurrence in the army, which I know only by acci- 
dent, while I have every reason to think your treatment 
proceeds from a spirit of jealousy, and that I have every 
thing to fear from the malice of my enemies, conscious of 
my own innocency and integrity, I am determined to sa- 
crifice my feelings, present peace and quiet, to the public 
good, and continue in the army at this critical juncture, 
when my country needs every support. 

"I beg leave to say, that wlien Congress sent me into 
this department at the request of his excellency General 
"Washington, they thought me of some consequence, and I 
believe expected the commander in chief, would consult 



360 MEMOIRS BY 

CHAP, with me, or at least would have taken iny opinion on pub-, 
lie matters. I think it my duty (which nothing- shall de- 
ter me from doing) to acquaint you the army are clamor- 
ous for action. The militia who compose a great part 
of the army are already threatening to go home. One 
fortnight's inaction will, I make no douht, lessen your 
army by sickness and defection at least four thousand 
men, in which time the enemy may be reinforced or 
make good tlieir retreat. 

*' I have reason to think, from intelligence since receiv- 
ed, that had we improved the 20th of September it might 
have ruined the enemy, that is past, let me intreat you to 
improve the pi*esent time. 

«' I hope you will not impute this hint to a wish to com- 
mand the army, or to outshine you, when I assure you it 
proceeds from my zeal for the cause of my country Ie 
which I expect to rise or falL 

«< I am. Sir, 

«• Your humlble servant^ 
" B. ARNOLD. 
*< IIo7i. Major-genei-al Gates J^ 

Removed from command and excluded from head quar- 
ters, General Arnold experienced the keenest mortifica- 
tion, and too late discovered that he would hazard dis- 
grace, by voluntarily leaving the army at so eventful a 
period of the campaign ; yet he was too high spirited and 
presuming to make a concession or seek an explanation: 
his sense of subordination, and knowledge of service are 
explained by his letters, which require no comment. In 
this awkward situation, he hung about the camp, pro- 
fessing his intention to depart from day to day, murmur- 
ing discontent and scattering sedition, which nought but 
General Gates's plenary powers and good fortune could 
liave kept in check. On the suspension of Arnold's au- 
thority, General Gates took the division which bad be- 
longed to him under his immediate command, as he lack- 
ed decision to confer it on another, although he continued 



GENERAL WILKINSON. 2g| 

to deny it to Arnold, whom he suffered to retain his quar- chap. 
ters in camp. Major-general Lincoln arrived on the 22d, ^ ^■ 
and the command of the right wing was assigned to him ^•^'^'"^^ 
on the 25tli. 



S6il MEMOIRS BY 



CHAPTER VII. 

CHAP General Biirgoyne and General Gatesfortify their respective 
^^^ camps. — St. Leger^s intercepted letter. — Colonel Wilkin- 
son reconnoitres the left of the enemy, and makes forty- 
five prisoners. — Sickness of the army. — Correspondence 
between General Washington and General Gates Wil- 
kinson reports to General Gates, and gives an opinion as 
to the enemy's intentions on the 7th of October. — General 
Gates orders Colonel Morgan to attack the enemy. — Posi- 
tion of the enemy. — Morgan^ s plan of attack. — The ene-, 
my attacked. — Gives way, and retreats in disorder. — De- 
scription of that part of the ground lately occupied by the 
British grenadiers.'— -Wilkinson falls in with Major Ack- 
land, wounded through both legs. — Saves his life, and 
sends him into camp. — Farther description of the action. 
' — Statement respecting General .^mold's conduct. — He is 
7vounded in the latter end of the action. — Wilkinson's opi- 
nions of the enemy's intentions borne out by General Bur- 
gotjne's testimony. — Colonel Wilkinson's letter to Gover- 
nor Clinton of 9th October. — Governor Clinton's conduct 
contrasted rvith President Madison's. — Success of Sir 
Henry Clinton counteracted by Burgoyne's defeat. — Go- 
vernor Clinton's letter of 7th Oct. — General Gates's letter 
of the IQth Oct — .Brmy takes possession of the enemy's 
abandoned camp.— -Description of the ground on which 
General Burgoyne condensed his force. — General Lincoln 
wounded by the enemy's sharp-shooters. — Effect of the 
victory on the Jlmerican arms.—-General Fellows's letter 
to General Lincoln. — Colonel Wilkinson's answer to Ge- 
neral Fellows. — Burgoyne breaks up his camp, abandons 
his hospital, and retreats. — Critical situation of General 
Fellows. — Jlmerican army prepare for the pursuit. — Ar- 
rival of Mr. J. M. Hayes, a British surgeon, with a flag 
of truce. — Fac simile of General Burgotjne's letter brought 



GENERAL WILKINSON. S63 

by him. w9 hattean arrives, under a flag of truce, with 

Lady Harriet Sckland on board, bearing a letter from 
General Burgoyne. — Fac simile of that letter. — Reflections 
on the deportment of the fair sex in moments of severe 
trial. — LadyH. Mkland^s reception by Major Dearborn..^ 
Her arrival at the camp, ivhere she is kindly and re- 
spectfully received by General Gates. — Jl description of 
her,'— American army advances. — British army discover- 
ed on the heights above the Fish-kill.— Position taken up 
by the troops. — General order for the advance of the army. 
•—Wilkinson submits his objection to the GeneraVs plan. 
— Conversation between General Gates and himself on the 
subject.'— Wilkinson falls in with Colonel Morgan^s corps, 
which was retreating after a skirmish with the enemifs 
picket. — Advises that c^cer to change his position and 
promises him support. — Fatterson^s and Learned's bri- 
gades ordered to support him. — Troops ordered to cross 
the Fish-kill or retiirn to camp.-— Wilkinson sends a mes- 
sage to Gen, Gates, urging his presence. — Discovers a re- 
connoitring party of the enemy. — Orders Capt. Goodale to 
charge, which he does, and makes an officer and 35 men 
prisoners. — Fog clears away, and British army is disco- 
vered under arms. — JVixow's and Glover\<i brigade, 
which had in part crossed the creek, attacked, and give 
way, — Wilkinson, on his own responsibility, halts two 
brigades under Colonel Learned, and prevents their being 
cut to pieces. — The enemy opens a fire upon the tivo bri- 
gades while changing position.— JS'ixon^s and Glover's 
brigade resume their former positions. — Jiffairs of pick- 
ets, and cannonade on the I2th andlSth. — Letter of Gen. 
Gates to Gen, Burgoyne. — JVarrative of the Baroness of 
ReideseL—Appeal to the fair sex of the United States. 

General Burgoyne having taken the determination CHAP, 
to wait the movement of Sir Henry Clinton against Fort ^^^.^-^ 
Montgomery, turned his attention to the fortification Employ- 
of his camp. Tlie army of General Gates was actively mentof 
employed in similar labours, and the forest resounded ^.^iest ^^ 
under the strokes of the axe. Nevertheless the inaction 



^f MEMOIRS BY 

CHAP, of General Burgoyne was so opposite to his general clia- 
^^^' racter and apparent interests, that although the most de- 
sirable circumstance to General Gates, it caused him 
some perplexity. It was believed he expected succour* 
from Canada, which was true; and such dispositions 
mere made of our irregulars, as to render their arrival 
difficult if not impracticable; or he might, as was the 
fart, be waiting for co-operation from New York; and 
there was some apprehension, that he intended to trans- 
fer his army to the east side of the river, and by forcing 
a passage with his batteaux, to turn our right flank, 
though he had made no indication of such a movement. 
Colonel To penetrate any design he might have in that direc- 
Wiikmson {[q^ | crossed the river with a detachment, and re- 

reoniita- 

trts be coimoitred his left flank closely, but could make no 
kfT and '^tl)er disrovery than that he had thrown up a " tete de 
mi k.es 45 ponf\ On my return to camp, I fell in with and cap- 
pnsoners. ^^.g^j forty-llve armed seamen, who were on a niaraud- 

* Lieutenant Hardin on a scout intercepted Lieutenant Lundie and 
Ensign M'Martin with a party on their route from Ticonderoga to Gen. 
Burgoyne's camp, on one of whom the following letter was found. 

" Ticonderoga, Sept. 29th, 1777. 
« Dear Sir, 

" I am arrived here : every expedition has been made in my power 
for the purpose. I felt myself unhappy, and ill used, in my way 
through Canada ; but I shut my chapter of grievances till I see you, 
which I pray of Heaven may be soon. Brigadier general Powel will 
tell you of the dismemberment of my detachment. The taking the 
lOQ of the 8th for the upper posts 1 suffered with patience, on the 
supposition that a like number would be substituted in their place 
below; not conceiving that 4000 troops could be necessary in Canada; 
but that has not been done. You know my present strength. I wait 
orders. The chief business of this letter is to suffer the bearer of this 
to return without delay to procure a number of guides, not only to 
lead us m the direct military road, but in case of accidents, by any 
devious path that may bring us to you. 

" I have the honour to be, Sec. 

« BARRY ST. LEGER. 

" P. S. — I have procured Lieutenant Lundie to be sent with ihls, 
As Phillips IS too lame to return." ^ 

Addressed '• On His Majesty'' service-^General Burgoyne.** 



GENERAL WILKINSON. g65 

ing" party, among the deserted plantations, but couM draw chap, 
no other information from them except that they were ^^'• 
attached to the hatteaux. Our numbers increased daily, 
and for want of suitable aliment our sick multiplied pro- 
portionably. The accompanying general return [E] will 
exhibit our strength and condition on the 4th of October, 
Pending these scenes in the north, the grand army 
under General Washington in the south had been obliged 
after the battle of Brandywine, to retire before the supe- 
rior force of General Sir William Howe, and the com- 
mander in chief feeling sensibly the loss of Morgan's 
corps, which he had generously detached to aid the north- 
ern army, made a provisional request for its return. Th^ 
lettei's which passed on that subject, will throw some 
light on the situation of the respective commanders at 
that interesting epoch. The letter of General Washing- 
ton beai-s date the day after Sir William Howe crossed 
the Schuylkill. 

« Camp near Pottsgrove, Sept. 24th, 1777'. 
" Sir, 

<« This army has not been able to oppose General Howe 
with the success that was wished, and needs a reinforce- 
ment. I therefore request, if you have been so fortunate 
as to oblige General Burgoyne to retreat to Ticondero- 
ga, or if you have not, and circumstances will admit, that 
you will order Colonel Morgan to join me again with his 
corps. I sent him up when I thought you materially 
wanted him, and if his services can be dispensed with 
now, you will direct him to return immediately. You 
will perceive I do not mention this by way of command, 
but leave you to determine upon it according to your si- 
tuation; if they come, they should proceed by water from 
Albany as low down as Peeks-kill : in such case you will 
give Colonel Morgan the necessary orders to join me 
witli despatch. 

" I am. Sir, your most obedient servant, 

« GO. WASHINGTON. 
" Major -general Gates ^ 

VOL. I. LI 



CHAP. 
VII. 



%m MEMOIRS BY 

•« Campf. Behmus's Heights, Oct. 6th, 1777. 
<i Sir, 

« Since the action of the 19th ultimo, the enemy have 
kept the ground they occupied the mbrning of that day, 
and fortified their camp; the advanced sentries* of my 
pickets are posted within shot of and opposite to the ene- 
my's; neither side have given ground an inch. In this 
situation, your excellency would not wish me to part with 
the corps, the army of General Burgoyne are most afraid 
of. From the best intelligence he has not more than 
three week's provisions in store; it will take him at least 
tight days to get back to Ticonderoga; so that in a fort- 
night at furthest, he must decide, wliether he will really 
risk at infinite disadvantage to force my camp or retreat 
to his den: in either case, I must have the fairest pros- 
pect to be able to reinforce your excellency in a more 
considerable manner than by a single regiment. I am 
sorry to repeat to your excellency the distress I have suf- 
ered for want of a proper supply of musket cartridges from 
Springfield, or the materials to make them. The inclosed 
from the commissary of ordnance stores at Albany, will 
convince your excellency of the truth of this assertion. 
My anxiety also on account of provisions, has been in- 
expressible; a greater error has not been committed this 
war, than the changing the commissariat in the middle 
of the campaign. You, Sir, must have your grievances ; 
I therefore will not awaken them by enlarging upon 
mine. 

« I have the honour to be, &c. 

"HORATIO GATES." 

« Ki% Excellency Gen. Washington,'* 



* This was an unnecessary etribellishment, because General Gates 
had good reason for not parting with Morgan's corps. The pickets 
of the two armies were more than a mile apart on our left, and three 
quarters of a mile on our right; of which General Gates might be 
iguarant, because he never visited them. 



GENERAL WILKINSON. g67 

The change in the commissariat to which General chap. 
Gates alludes, was produced by the act of Congress which ^ ''" 
determined Colonel Joseph Trumbull to quit the depart- 
ment; a measure of vvhicli General Washington foresaw 
the evil consequences-, and which he opposed as far as he 
consistently could. 

The weather in the autumn of 1777, on the Hudson's 
river, was charming, and the time glided away without 
any notable occurrence. As early as the blockade of 
Boston, I had observed that beating to arms frequently 
produced false alarms, and always hurry ; I had there- 
fore prevailed on the General to forbid the practice. Yet 
on the afternoon of the 7th October, the advanced guard 
of the centre beat to arms ; the alarm wa3 repeated 
throughout the line, and the troops repaired to their 
alarm posts. I was at head quarters when this happen- 
ed, and with the approbation^ of the General, mounted my 
horse to inquire the cause; but on reaching the guawl 
where tlie beat commenced, I could obtain no other satis- 
faction, but that some person had reported the enemy to 
be advancing against our left. I proceeded over open 
ground, and ascending a gentle acclivity in front of the 
guard, I perceived about half a mile from the line of our 
encampment, several columns of the enemy, 60 or 70 
rods from me, entering a wheat field which had not been 
cut, and was separated from me by a small rivulet ; and 
without my glass I could distinctly mark their every 
movement. After entering the field, they displayed, 
formed the line, and Sat down in double ranks with their 
arms between their legs. Foragers then proceeded to cut 
the wheat or standing straw, and I soon after observed 
several officers, mounted on the top of a cabin, from 
whence with their glasses they were endeavouring to re- 
connoitre our left, which was concealed from their view 
by intervening woods. 

Having satisfied myself, after fifteen minutes attentive 
observation, that no attack was meditated, I returned and 
reported to the Qpneral, who asked me what appeared to 
be the intentions of the enemy. »« TIrey are foragingj 



26S MEMOIRS BY 

CKAP, and endeavouring to reconnoitre your left ; and I think 
' ■ Sir, they offer you batfle." " What is the nature of the 
ground, and what your opinion ?" " Their front is open, 
and ther flanks rest on woods, under cover of which they 
may be attacked ; their right is skirted by a h)fty height. 
I would indulge them." " Well, then, order on Morgan 
Colonel ^Q begin the game." I waited on the Colonel, whose 

Morgan p t i i- » 

ordered to corps was formed in front of our centre, and delivered 

attack the j|,g order: he knew the ground, and inquired the posi- 
enemv. ^ * . 

tion of the enemy : they were formed across a newly cul- 
tivated field, their grenadiers with several field pieces on 
the left, bordering on a wt)o(l and a small ravine formed 
by the rivulet before alluded to^ their light infantry on 
the right, covered l)y a worm fence at the foot of the hill 
before mentioned, thickly covered with wood; their centre 
composed of British and German battalions. Colonel 
Morgan, with his usual sagacity, proposed to make a cir- 
cuit with his corps by our left, and under cover of the 
wood to gain the height on the right of the enemy, and 
from thence commence his attack, so soon as our fire 
sliould be opened against their left; the plan was the best 
whicli could be devised, and no doubt contributed essen- 
tially to the prompt and decisive victory we gained. 

This proposition was approved by the General, and it 
was concerted that time should be allowed the Colonel to 
make the proposed circuit, and gain his station on the 
the enemy's right before the attack should be made on 
tlieir left ; Poor's brigade was ordered for this ser- 
Attac'k vice, and the attack was commenced in due season on 
meiices *''*^ flank and front of the British grenadiers, by the New 
Hampshire and New York troops. True to his purpose, 
Morgan at this critical moment poured down like a tor- 
rent from the hill, and attacked the right of the enemy in 
front and flank. Dearborn at the moment, when the 
enemy's light infantry were attempting to change front, 
pressed forward with ardour and delivered a close fire; 
then leapt the fence, shouted, charged and gajlantly forc- 
ed them to retire in disorder ; yet headed by that intre- 
pid soldier the Earl of Balcarras, they were immediately 



GENERAL WILlvINSON. 269 

rallied and re-formed beliind a fence in rear of their CH^iP. 
first position ; but being now attacked w itli great audacity ^"* 
in front and flanks by superior numbers, resistance be- 
came vain, and the whole line, commanded by Burgoyne 
in person, gave way and made a precipitate and disorder- 
ly retreat to his camp, leaving two twelve and six six- 
pounders on the field with the loss of more tluiti 400 offi- 
cers and men killed, wounded and captured, and among 
them the flower of his oflicers, viz. Brigadier-general 
Frazer, Major Ackland commanding tiie grenadiers, Sir 
Francis Clark,* his first aid-de-camp. Major Williams 



* When I returned to head-quarters from the field of baWle, I found 
Sir Francis Clark reposinij on General Gates's bed, and those gentle- 
men engag-ed in a warm dispute, on the merits of the revolution. Sir 
Francis admitting that every procedure on our part, short of the de- 
claration of independence, was warranted by the conduct of the Bri- 
tish administration ; that he had on this ground vindicated us in 
public and private, but that the sudden act of severance, convinced 
him the contest had originated in a premeditated view to independ- 
ence into which the colonies had been cheated by the puritans of New 
England; and that he, of consequence, had changed his opinion, and 
taken part against us. On the other hand, Gates contended, that the 
idea of disunion had never entered into the head of any American, 
until the menaces of the parliament, the repeated oppressive acts of 
the British government, and the manifest vindictive resentment of the 
sovereign, left the colonists no alternative between abject vassalage 
and self-government. 

The old General became quite incensed, and calling me out of the 

room, asked me if I had ever heard so impudent a son of a b h. 

Sir Francis, who was I think a member of parliament, appeared to be 
an impetuous, high-minded, frank, fearless fellow, for suddenly chang- 
ing the conversation he inquired of roe, "whether our surgeons were 
good for any thing, as he did not like the direction of his wound, and 
was desirous to know whether it was mortal or not !" The following- 
exlnaot of a letter from Dr. Hayes to General Burgoyne, dated the 9lti 
October, describes Sir Francis's particular case- " I have seen Sic 
Francis Clark, and am sorry to inform you that I form some unfavourable 
opinion of his case. The ball entered Iws right flank, struck the twi> 
last of the/(i/se ribs, penetrated the cavity of the abdomen, and seems 
to run towarcjs the spine ; a tension of his belly, and involujitary dis- 
charges of urine are bad symptRnas. He has been attended with gieat 
care imd tenderness; I stay by him this night and shall not orait any 
attention for his recovery. Major Ackland ta wounded iu the thick 



270 MEMOIRS BY 

CHAP, commaiuling officer of the artillery. Captain M(yney depu- 
^'^' ty quarter-master general, and many others. After deli- 
vering the order to General Poor and directing him to 
the point of attack, I was peremptorily commanded to re- 
pair to the rear and order up Ten Broeck's brigade of 
York militia 3000 strong ; I performed this service, and 
regained the field of battle at the moment the enemy had 
turned their backs, fifty-two minutes after the first shot 
Descrip- was fired. The ground which had been occupied by the 
part of the British grenadiers presented a scene of complicated hor- 
iieldof poi" and exultation. In the square space of twelve or 

battle oc- 1 r 

cupied by fifteen yards lay eighteen grenadiers m the agonies oi 
the British death, and three officers propped up against stumps of 
diers. trees, two of them mortally wounded, bleeding, and al- 
most speechless ; what a spectacle for one whose bosom 
glowed with philanthropy, and how vehement the impulse, 
which can excite men of sensibility to seek such scenes 
of barbarism ! I found the courageous Colonel Cilley a 
straddle on a brass twelve-pounder and exulting in the 
capture-^whilvst a surgeon, a man of great worth, who 



pari of 6o</i legs. Theleft seems to have the bone touched, but of no con- 
sequence." Sir Francis died I think tlie 13lh, and the day before, ques- 
. tioned Doctor Townsend who attended him, as to the probable issue 
of the wound, the Doctor felt a reluctance in announcing his doomj 
he observed it, and remarked " Doctor why do you pause ? do you 
think I am afraid to die ?" The Doctor then advised him as an act 
of prudence, to arrange his private affairs, " thank you Doctor," re- 
plied he, " I understand you, as to my private affairs, my father set- 
tied them for me, and I have only a few legacies to bequeath," among 
them he gave twenty guineas to the matron of our hospital, who had 
paid particular attention to him. Some time after the convention, the 
matron presented her claim to Capt.Money, the British deputy quarter- 
master general, who discharged it in continental bills then at a conside- 
rable depreciation. The woman complained of the circumstance, and 
was recommended to apply to General Burgoyne, who expressed his 
abhorrence of the act, directed the woman to hold the continental bills 
jind obliged Money to atone for the imposition, by paying the legacy 
in hard guineas of BriHsh coinage, -without reference to tjie sum he had 
ali'eadij paid her, which.a due regard to justice and the memory of his 
much lamented friend v.'ould not permit him to consider as the ac- 
complishment of Sir FruiYcis's intention, 



GENERAL WILKINSOIS. §71 

was dressing one of the officers, raising his blood -he- chap. 
smeared hands in a frenzy of patriotism, exclaimed, ^"• 
Wilkinson I have dipt my hands in British blood. He re- 
ceived a sharp rebuke for his brutality, and with the 
troops I pursued the hard pressed flying enemy, passing 
over killed and wounded until I heard one exclaim, " pro- 
tect me Sir, against this boy." Turning my eyes, it was 
my fortune to arrest the purpose of a lad, thirteen or 
fourteen years old, in the act of taking aim at a wound- 
ed officer who lay in the angle of a worm fence. Inquir- Wilkinson 
ing his rank, he answered, «I had the honour to com- ^^5^^ Ma- 
mand the grenadiers;" of course, I knew him to he Major jor Ack- 
Ackland, who had been brought from the field to this ^vcmnded 
place, on the back of a Captain Shrimpton of his own corps, through 
under a heavy fire, and was here deposited, to save the 
lives of both. I dismounted, took him by the hand and 
expressed hopes that he was not badly wounded, " not 
badly," replied this gallant officer and accomplished gen- 
tleman, " but very inconveniently, I am shot through 
both legs; will you Sir have the goodness to have me 
conveyed to your camp?" I directed my servant to 
alight, and we lifted Ackland into his seat, and ordered 
him to be conducted to head-quarters. I then proceeded 
to the scene of renewed action, which embraced Bur- 
goyne's right flank defence, and extending to his left, 
crossed a hollow covered with wood, about 40 rods to the 
entrenchment of the light infantry ; the roar of cannon Further 
and small arms at this juncture was sublime, between the tU)n^oTihe 
enemy, behind their works, and our troops entirely ex- action. 
posed, or partially sheltered by trees, stumps, or hollows, 
at various distances not exceeding 120 yards. This 
riglit flank defence of the enemy, occupied by the German 
corps of Breyman, consisted of a breast-work of rails piled 
horizontally between perpendicular pickets, driven into 
the earth, formed en potence to the rest of his line, and 
extended about 250 yards across an open field, and was 
covered on the right by a battery of two guns. The in- 
terval from the left to the British light infantry was 
Committed to the defence of the provincialists, who oc- 



27:a MEMOIRS BY 

CHAP, ciipied a rouplo of log cabins. The Germans were en- 
• camped immediately behind the rail breast-woik, and the 
grotind in front of it declined in a very gentle slope for 
about 120 yards, when it sunk abruptly; our troo]is had 
formed a line under ti)is declivity, and covered breast 
high were warmly engaged with the Germans. From 
this position, about sunset, I perceived Brigadier-general 
Learned advancing towards the enemy with his brigade, 
in open column, I think with Colonel M. Jackson's regi- 
ment in front, as I saw Lieutenant-colonel Brooks, who 
commanded it, near the General when 1 rode up to him ; 
on saluting this brave old soldier, he inquired, « where 
can I put in with most advantage.*' 1 had particularly 
examined tlie ground between the left of tiie Germans and 
the light infantry, occupied by the provincialists, from 
whence I had observed a slack fire ; I therefore recom- 
mended to General Learned to incline to his right, and 
attack at that point: he did so with great gallantry; the 
provincialists abandoned their position and fled ; the Ger- 
man flank was by this means uncovered ; they were as- 
saulted vigorously, overturned in five minutes, and re- 
treated in disorder, leaving their gallant commander. 
Lieutenant-colonel Breyman, dead on the field. By dis- 
lodging this corps, the whole British encampment was 
laid open to us ; but the extreme darkness of the night, 
the fatigue of the men, and the disorder incident to un- 
disciplined troops after so desultory an action, put it o^it 
of our power to improve the advantage; and in the course 
of the night General Burgoyne broke up his camp, and 
retired to his original position, which he had fortified, 
hehind the great ravine. 
Statement I would not offer injustice even to a traitor, and there- 
lespecting fQ,.g j^ j^ ^^ut to derogate from the military merits of Ge- 
Arnold's neral Arnold, that I make the following statement of 
conduct, jv^p^g . j,^,j j^^ j^ j.^ rescue from oblivion transactions 

which have found place in history, under misrepi-esenta- 
tions as gross as those which have been imposed on the 
country, in so many instances during the late war. It 
must be understood that General Gates had received no 



GENERAL WILKINSON. 273 

amicable explanation from General Arnold, subsequent chap. 
to Jjis letter of the 1st of October, of consequence Arnold ^'^' 
found himself without command on the 7tli, and it was 
very natural that an officer of his ambition should, on the 
commencement of the action, feel irritated by the humi- 
liating situation in which he found himself. 

It was remarked, that in the pro.^rcss of the engage- 
ment he rode about the camp betraying great agitation 
and wrath, and it was said that he was observed to drink 
freely^ at length he was found on the field of battle exer- 
cising command, but not by the order or permission of 
General Gates. His conduct was exceedingly rash and 
intemperate; and he exposed liimself with great folly and 
temerity, at the time we were engaged front to front with 
the Germans, and whilst he was flourishing his sword 
and encouraging the troops, he in a state of furious dis- 
traction struck an officer* on the head and wounded him, 
the first impulse of the officer was to shoot him, for which 
purpose he raised his fusee, but recollecting himself, he 
was about to remonstrate, when the General darted off to 
another part of the field ; soon after this incident finding 
himself on our right, he dashed to the left through the 
firef of the two lines and escaped unhurt; he then turned 
the right of the enemy, as I was informed by that most 
excellent officer. Colonel Butler,:}: and collecting 15 or 20 
riflemen threw himself with this party into the rear of the 
enemy, just as they gave way, where his leg was broke, 
and his horse killed under him ; but whether by our fire 
or that of the enemy, as they fled from us, has never been 
ascertained. It is certain, that he neither rendered ser- 
vice, nor deserved credit on that day, and the wound he 
received alone saved him from being overwhelmed, by the 
torrent of General Gates's good fortune and popularity. 
On such caprices of fortune does the bubble of military 

* Believed to be Captain Ball of Major Dearborn's infantry. 
] It would be deemed incredible, if General Scott had not perform- 
ed the same mad prank at Lundy's Lane. 

4 Afterwards General Butler, and killed on the 4th Nov. 1791, 

voTi. I. M vA 



274) MEMOIRS BY 

CHAP, fame depend ! It may be remembered by several who now 

^^^' live, that Arnold rode on that day a black or dark brown 

horse, the property of Mr. Leonard Chester of Wea» 

thcrsfield, Connecticut, a)id I recollect observing the 

body of the horse the morning after, in the rear of tho 

German encampment. 

Wilkin- It appears from Burgoync's despatch to Lord George 

pmAnd Gormaine, of the 20th Oct. 1777,* that in my repoi-t to 

opinion of General Gates on the 7th, I had penetrated the motives 

the cne- 

my'sinten- of his movement J and I afterwards understood from him- 
tionssup- gp|p j-j^^t j„ l,aif an hour he should have foraared, finish- 

porled by , . , , , • i 

General cd his observations, and returned to his camp; our attack 
Burgoyne. tbereforc was most critical, and I trust my enemies may 
admit, that my agency on tlie occasion was not prejudi- 
cial to the public cause. The following extract from a 
letter written in haste to the patriot. Governor George 
Clinton, by order of General Gates, the second day after 
the action, exhibits a detail of facts too faithful to admit 
correction, and too explicit to require illustration. 

Extract of a letter from an officer of distinction in tlie army 
under the command of his excellency General Gates, to 
the Governor ofJVew Fork state, dated Camp, Behmus^s 
Heights, Oct. dth, ±777, — published in Holt's paper. 

" Dear Sir, 

« General Gates has this moment received a copy of 
your letter of the 7th instant to the council of safety, and 
being much engaged, has desired me to tjell you, that he 
condoles with you on the loss of the important post of 
Fort Montgomery, &c., but congratulates you on the 
bravery and address of your little garrison. To com- 
pensate for this disaster, I have the pleasure to inform 
you, that we had on the 7th instant an action with Gene- , 
ral Burgoyne, which reflects the highest honour on our 
arms, as we carried his encampment and advanced works, 
took 2 twelve, and 6 six-pounders (brass), with a num- 

" See his State ef Canada, Appendix, page 83. 



GENERAL WILKINSON. 275 

ber of carts and tents, and a considerable quantity of bag- cHAP. 
gage, made prisoners the commanding officers of the ar- Vii. 
tillery and of the British grenadiers, with the General's ^*^'^'''"'^-' 
aid-de-camp, Sir Francis Clark, a quarter-master gene- 
ral, and a number of inferior rank, with about two hun- 
dred and fifty non-commissioned officers and privates; 
the number of the slain, both officers and men, is consi- 
derable ; among the former is General Fraser. The con- 
sequent hurry has prevented a return of our killed and 
wounded, which I am sensible do not exceed eighty j of 
the former, we have only one subaltern, and of the latter 
a few gallant officers. General Burgoyne last night eva- 
cuated his camp, leaving behind him upwards of three 
hundred sick and wounded, among whom are six cap- 
tains, together with a quantity of flour, &c. and has re- 
treated towards Fort Edward ; but as General Gates has 
taken the precaution to throw about two thousand men 
in his rear, on the east side of the river, it is probable 
they will obstruct his retreat, and give us time to come 
lip with him. 

*« I have the honour to be, &c." 

The letter from Governor Clinton to the council of <^overnor 
safety, referred to in the preceding extract, is worthy a conduct 
place in these memoirs ; it furnishes an admirable con- contrasted 
trast to the scenes of Bladensburgh, and may enahle the sident Ma- 
citizens of these states, when the prejudices of faction <^iso"s. 
shall slumber, to compare the merits of George Clinton 
the sage, the patriot and soldier, with James Madison, 
whose public and private virtues remain to be discovered, 
whilst his incompetency and duplicity will be conspi- 
cuous, so long as the dishonour attendant upon a confla- 
grated capital, and the pernicious effects of a national 
bank shall be felt and remembered ; and combined with 
other testimonials to be found in these sheets, this letter 
will shew, that whilst the zealous, inflexible, gallant Clin- 
ton was supporting the defenders of the state over which 
he presided in the north, by the exertion of his utmost 
influence and authority, he was combating the public 



;a76 MEMOmS BY 

CHAP, enemy in the goiitli sword in hand ; the same documents 
VII will prove also, that by tlic auspicious circumstance of 
^'*'*'^''^'**^ Burgoyne's defeat on the 7th, the object of Sir Henry 
Clinton's co-operation was baffled, and his enterprize 
on the 6th was productive of no other public effect, 
but to incense, excite atui unite the inhabitants in de- 
fcnce of their fire-sides airtl household goods. 



« Mw Windsor, 7th Oct. 1777. 
" Gentlemen, 

(( The extreme fatigue 1 have undergone for three days 
past, and the want of rest for an equal number of nights, 
renders me unfit to write you on matters of such serious 
consequence to this state, as those I have to communicate. 
I am only able briefly to inform you, that yesterday about 
ten o'clock A. M. our advanced party was attacked by 
the enemy at Doodle town, about 2| miles from Fort 
Montgomery; our party consisted of about 30 men, the 
enemy by appearance and subsequent accounts of 5000, 
nevertheless our men received the enemy's fire, returned 
it and retreated to Fort Clinton; soon after I received 
intelligence that the enemy were advancing to the west 
side of the mountain, with design to attack us in rear. — . 
Upon this I ordered out Lieutenant-colonels Bonyn and 
M'Cloghray with upwards of 100 men towards Doodle- 
town, and a brass field piece with a detachment of 60 
men, to a very advantageous post on the road to the fur^ 
iiace. They were not long out, before they were both 
attacked by tlie enemy with their whole force. Our peo- 
ple behaved witli spirit and must have made great slaugh- 
ter of the enemy. I strengthened the party on the fur- 
nace road, to upwards of 100, but they were obliged to 
give way to so superior a force as the enemy brought 
against thein ; yet they kept their field piece in full play 
at them, till the men who worked it were driven oil* with 
fixed bayonets, they however spiked it before they quit 
it, and retreated witli great good order to a 12 pounder, 
which I had ordered to cover tlicnij and from thence into 



GENERAL WILKINSON. 277 

the Fort. I immediately posted my men in the most ad- chap. 
vantageoiis manner for the defence of the post, and it was ^^^• 
not many minutes before we as well as Fort Clinton were 
attacked on all sides, and a most incessant fire was kept 
up till night and even after dusk, when the enemy forced 
our lines and redoubts at both posts, and the garrison^s 
were obliged to fight their way out, as they were deter- 
mined not to surrender, and many have escaped. I was 
summoned, when the sun was an hour high, to surrender 
in five minutes, and thereby prevent the effusion of blood. 
I sent Lieutenant-colonel Livingston to receive the flag, 
and the officer who bore it informed him, he had no orders 
to treat with him unless the garrison meant to surrender 
themselves prisoners of war, in which case be was em- 
powered to assure them of good usage. This proposition 
being rejected with scorn, about 10 minutes after, they 
made a general and desperate attack on both posts, which 
was resisted with great spirit, but we were at length over- 
powered by numbers, and they gained possession. Our 
officers and men displayed much resolution, as well militia 
as continental troops. Our loss in slain cannot be said to 
be great, considering the length of the action. My brother 
General J. Clinton is wounded and I believe made pri- 
soner;' this is the case with Major Logan ; the number 
missing I can't ascertain. The ships are both burnt, and 
Fort Constitution demolished by our people without my 
orders, but T can't as yet coridemn the measure. The officers 
all say it was right ; lam char it was as to the Forty after 
removing artillery and stores, which has not been done. The 
ships J hoped might have been saved. General Putnam 
will retreat near to Captain Haight*s, about 3 miles from 
Vanwyck, and I mean to rally my broken but brave force 
and advance to-morrow to Butter Hill. General Putnam 
is to send Colonel Webb's regiment to join me. I beg 
you will give the substance of this account to General 
Gates in answer to his letters to me. I have only to add 
that I greatly regret the loss of tijese posts, but 1 am con- 
soled with the full persuasion that they have bought them 



278 MEMOIRS BY 

CHAP, dear and that / have done the most in my power to save 
^"" them. I beg you to excuse incorrectness and am with 
due respect. 

«< .TV. B. Major Lush is, I believe, their prisoner. 
«« Your most obedient, 

« GEO. CLINTON. 
« To the Council of the state of JVew York.^* 

The following letter of General Gates is introduced in 
tliis place, because it will evince his zeal in the public 
service, recognise my letter of the 9th, to Governor Clin- 
ton and pays a just tribute to the sterling worth of a great 
man, a valiant soldier and a good citizen. 

** Camp at Saratogat 13th Oct. 1777. 
« Sir, 

« Last night I had the honour to receive your excel- 
lency's letter from New Windsor of t!»e 9th instant by ex- 
press. I Iiad previously wrote an order to Fort Schuy- 
ler, directing the commanding officer there, to send Van 
Scjiaick's regiment without delay to Albany. I have also 
desired Brigadier-general Gansevoort to repair forthwith 
to that city, and take the command of all the troops that 
may assemble there. I am clearly with you in opinion 
that should the enemy's General push up the river, your 
force, in addition to the reinforcements I can give you, 
acting upon the west side, will so co-operate witli Gene- 
ral Putnam upon the east side, that Sir H. Clinton will 
not be able to. effect any stroke of consequence; and, per- 
haps, may finally be as much embarrassed to retreat, as 
General Biirgoyne most visibly appears to be. The two 
heavy brass twelve pounders taken from the enemy, with 
a very fine brass train, that I can spare for your succour, 
will be a good recruit for your artillery. 1 have already 
sent down the two Esopiis regiments, the Tryon county 
militia, and most of the militia of Albany county, so that 
General Gansevoort may be able immediately to form a 
post; the moment Van Schaick's regiment gets to Albany 
the cannon shall meet them there. The volunteer mililia 



GENERAL WILKINSON. ^79 

under General Wolcott, mentioned in Colonel Wilkin- chap, 
son's letter to your excellency of the 9th instant, could 
not be prevailed upon to go and remain any time in Al- 
bany. They were not engaged for any term, and only 
meant to remain here a few days. 

*< The very great honour you excellency has acquired 
by the noble defence of Fort Montgomery, will to the lat- 
est posterity adorn the family of ClintoxY. 
« I am, Sir, 

*f Your excellency's most affectionate, 
« And humble servant, 
" H. GATES. 
« Governor Clinton," 

On the 8th in the morning the whole army except the Army 
camp guards, moved forward and took possession of the ggg^on of 
enemy's abandoned camp, and the day was spent in the the ene- 
random fire of artillery and small arms ; the enemy refus- doned *" 
ing a flag with wliich I attempted, at every point of his ca^P- 
line, to convey a letter to Lady Harriet Ackland from her 
husband, a prisoner in our hands. The heights on which Descrlp- 
Burgoyne had condensed his force were strong by nature ^'^"'^^*"® 
and had been improved by art; the great ravine which which 
now covered his front, ran parallel with the entrench- condeS 
ments of his late camp, and several small drains, covered l»'s force. 
with saplings and brush-wood, emptied tlieir waters into 
the great ravine from the rear of those intrenchments, the 
ground in front being an open pine plain ; to prevent our 
encroachment, Burgoyne had lodged his provincials and 
sharp shooters at the heads of these drains, from whence 
they continued, the whole day, to annoy every person who 
crossed their line of vision, and it was from a shot of one 
of these lurking parties that General Lincoln had his leg General 

broke, late in the day, as he was crossing an indenture of ^'"'^*'i" j 

•^ ♦^ wounded 

the ground in our front, at a spot where in passing and by the 
re-passing with orders in the course of the day, I had shJiT.'* 
been fired at a dozen times, without any apprehension of shooters, 
my danger, it being a long sliot and the maiksmen con- 
cealed. 



S80 MEMOIRS BY 

CHAP. T^he movements in the British camp which could not be 
concealed, plainly indicated a retreat ; but for want of due 
foresight and seasonable precaution, it was discovered on 
the evening of the 8th, that tlie whole army had been without 
provision since the day before, and our troops exhausted 
with hunger and fatigue retired to their camp, which had 
been left standing in the morning; to account for this cir- 
cumstance, it maybe necessary to quote the following ex- 
tract from the general order of the 4th October, <«Thc 
whdie army to be immediately victualled to the 7th inst. 
inclusive, with two-thirds fresh and one-third salt provi- 
sions, which is to be cooked as soon as possible." The 
unexpected action of that day had prevented the troops 
Effect of from drawing again according to rule ; and the delirium 
rv on^the ^^ J^^ which Succeeded the victory, appeared to extin- 
American guish the sober reflection of the whole army, and an im- 
"'"^° patience for the pursuit of a retreating enemy seemed to 
stifle the claims of nature. 

I had been harassed by an obstinate and wasting dis- 
ease for several weeks and retired to my pallet on the- 
evening of the 8th, too much enfeebled to employ my 
pen ; in this situation a note from Brigadier-general Fel- 
lows,* who had been ordered to cross the river and take 
post at Saratoga, to General Lincoln who had been badly 
wounded, was handed to me ; on the perusal it occurred 
to me, that we should not be able to follow Burgoyne until 

* Copy of a letter from General Fellows to General Lincoln, dated) 
Saratoga Barracks, October 8th, 1777. 

*' Dear Sir, 

" I arrived at this post about eleven o'clock in the morning with 
the whole of the men under my command amounting to about thirteen 
hundred, and have ordered on the provision, that was collected, at 
my last post. The men here are very busy in throwing up works to 
secure themselves in case of an attack. Still I think that it is neces- 
sary there should be not less than four thousand men to support this 
post. 

" I remain, Dear Sir, 

" Your sincere friend, 
(Signed) "JOHN FELLOWS. 

" T%e Hon. Major-general Lincoln^ 



GENERAL WILKINSON. 281 

the army drew provisiosis, whicli would employ the 9th, chap. 
and that if he retreated tliat nii^ht, which was universally ^^'' 
expected, he might fall on Fellows in tlie mornin.ef, and 
cut him to pieces ; to provide ai^aiiist this event, I sent 
for the deputy quarter-master general. Colonel Utlney 
Hay, and dictated an answer* to General Fellows's let- 
ter, vvliicli he transcribed in (Juplicate, and despatched Wilkinson 
by a confidrMitial express, on each side of the rivt-r; in eg arfan-' 
the mean time Burgoyne, as was suspected, actually swei- to 
broke up his camp and began his retreat for Batten Hill, Fallows. 
on the east side of the Hudsnii, intruding to fcird at Sara- burgoyne 
toga; but the extreme darkness of tiie night, the narrow- 
ness of the road, and a heavy fall of rain retarded his 
march, and obliged him to halt at Davocote, two miles 
siiort of Saratoga. This was most cjitical for General Critical 
Fellows, because I was afterwards informed Lv Lieutc- ^';'';^^'*'" , 

•^ o.- General 

nant-colonel Southerland, of the 4rth regiment, who had Fellows. 

been seiit forward by General Burgoyrse to reconnoitre, 
that he crossed the Fishkill, ai\d directed hy General Fel- 
lows's fires, who occupied a height beyond, found his 
camp so entirely unguarded, that he marched round it 
without being hailed; returned and reported to Burgoyne, 
and intreated permission to attack Fellows with his regi- 
ment alone, but was refused. Had not this rain and 
other obstructions occurred, Burgoyne must have reach- 



* " Head Quarters, Behmita's Heights, 8lh Oct. 17f7. 

" Dear General, 

*' Yours from Saratoga barracks of this day just now came to hand. 
As every motion of the enemy gives iis reason to believe they will make 
a rapid retreat, and the late fatigue our troops have undergone would 
make it improper to pursue tliem before morning, the General is of 
opinion (as there is a possibility of your being overpowered by num- 
bers) that you should recross the river, and use ever)' possible exer- 
tion to hinder them from crossing, which if you can eifect will give 
us undoubted opportunity of coming up wiih, and attacking them to 
very great advantage. The General, nevertheless, leaves you at full 
liberty to determine what is best to be done. 

" I have the honour to be, &c. 

" JAS. WILKINSON, £>. Adj. Gen. 
" Bri^adier-s^eneral Feiloivs" 

VOL. I. N n 



S8S MEMOIRS BY 

CHAP, ed Saratoga before day, in which case Fellows would 
have been rut up and captured, or dispersed, and Bur- 
goync's retreat to Fort George would have been unob- 
structed ; but the arrival of my letter on tiie morning of 
the 9tli, advised Fellows of his danger, and as the front of 
Burgoyne's army reached Saratoga, the rear of our mili- 
tia was ascending the opposite bank of Hudson's river, 
where tl»ey took post and prevented its passage. 

Whilst these transactions were passing in our front, 
our army was employed in drawing and cooking provi- 
sions, completing ammunition, and equipping themselves 
for the pursuit. I mounted at da^vlight on the 9th, and 
proceeding up the river, passed our advanced guard, and 
had reached the point where that of the enemy had been 
stationed, when I observed an individual appi'oaching me 
on horseback at full gallop, with a white flag raised by 
his hand, and as he advanced, he held out a letter, which 
I received and read, and now offer a fac simile [o] of it, in 
commemoration of the occasion. The bearer appeared 
Mr.Hayes, in much trepidation, and announced to me the facetious, 
siHffeon? amiable Hibernian, John Macnamara Hayes,* informing 
presents me at the same time, that he had been left in charge of 
With I flag niany sick and wounded officers and men, whom he in- 
of truce, treated me to visit, as they were in great alarm for their 
personal safety against our Indians and riflemen. I ac- 
companied him, and after examining his hospital tents, 
where I found about three hundred men comfortably ac- 
commodated, I was introduced to the officers,! who occu- 
pied Sword's house ', and persuade myself, tliose of them 
who live will bear in memory, the heart cheering conso- 
lation which I gave them, by the assurance of protection 
in their persons and proi)erty, under a safeguard of rifle- 

* Since Sir John M. Hayes, and an eminent practitioner in London. 

f Names of officers recommended by General Burgoyne to the 
protection of General Gates : 20th regt. Captains Ricliard Dowlin, 
William Stanley, William Farquhar, Lieutenant James Dowlin, and 
Ensign Morgan Conner; — 21st regt. Captain the Hon. Malcolm Ram- 
sey, Lieutenant Richard Ruthmd; — Ecruer's Chasseurs, Captain Van 
Glysenburgh, Lieutenant Brodie. 



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GENERAL AVILKINSON. g83 

men, and of every comfort in the power of the American chap. 
general to bestow. * 

I'hc exertions of the two precedinj? days, appeared on 
the 9th, to have appalled the energy of the troops; the 
weather was unfavourable, the commissariat dilatory, and 
the men seemed to prefer repose to action. Disease made 
me impatient, and 1 freely expressed my chagrin at the 
delay to General Gates, who consoled me with his ap- 
probation of my conduct and thanks for my services. The 
day wasted without a movement to the front, excepting 
parties of observation, and the night found us on our old 
ground. About 10 o'clock I was advised from the ad- 
vanced guard on the river, that a batteau under a flag of 
truce had arrived from the enemy, with a lady on board, 
who bore a letter to Gen. Gates from Gen. Burgoyne, of 
which 1 shall here record a fac simile, [b] in honour of the 
sensibility which dictated it, and as a testimony of that 
supreme degree of fortitude, resignation, constancy and 
affection, which is most frequently discovered under the 
most tender forms ; and I will add from my own obser- 
vation, and I do it with lively satisfaction, that in the ex- 
ercise of those duties and those virtues which ornament 
and sweeten the married life; in every trial of adversity, 
the fair and feeble sex shew themselves superior to the 
lordly animals of the creation, and furnish examples of 
tranquil firmness and resolution to their protectors. 

Major Henry Dearborn,* who commanded the guard, 
was ordered to detain the flag until the morning ; the 
night being exceedingly dark, and the quality of the lady 
unknown. As this incident has been grossly misrepre- 
sented to the injury of the American character, which in 
arms is tliat of courage, clemency and humanity; to correct 
the delusions which have flowed from General Burgoyne's 
pen, who although the vehicle, could not have been the 
author, of the calumny — [ am authorised by General 
Dearborn to make the following statement, in which 
I place entire confidence. His guard occupied a cabin,. 

* Late Major-general Dearborn. 



S84i MEMOIRS BY 

CHAP, in which there was a back apartment appropriated to Iiis 

Vi f 

own accr»mm()(lation : the pai-t\ on board the boat at- 
tracted the attention of the sentinel, and he had not hail- 
ed ten minutes, before she atriick the shore; the lady was 
imniediatoly conveyed into tlje apartment of the Major, 
w hich had been cleared for her reception ; her attenciants 
followed with her beddinj^ and necessaries, a fire was 
made, and her mind was relieved fi'OJn the iioi'rors whicli 
oppressed it, by the assuj-ance of her husbancrs safety ; 
slie took tea, and was accommodated as comfortably as 
circumstances would permit, and the next morning when 
I visited the guard before suni'isc, her boat had put i>ff, 
and was floating down the sti'cam to our camp, where 
Lady H. General Gates, wiiose gallantry will not be denied, stood 

Ackl;ind i.^.^dy to receive her with all the tenderness and respect 
IS receiv- '' ' 

ed by to which her rank and cr)nditi'tn gave her a claim : in- 
Gemral ^^^^,^1 ^j^p feminine figure, the benign aspect, and polished 
manners of this chaiming woman, were alone suilicient to 
attract the sympathy of the most obdurate; but if ano- 
ther motive could have been wanting to inspire resi)ect, 
it was fiirnislied by the peculiar cii'Cumstances of.L;uIy 
Hai'riet, then in that most delicate &ituati<»n, which can- 
not fail to interest tiie solicitudes f)f every being possess- 
ing tlie ff)rm and feelings of a man : it was titerefore 
the foulest injustice to brand ati American oflicei* with 
the failure of courtesy, w here it was so highly merited. 
Major Aekland had set out for Albany, where he was 
joined by his lady. 
British The 9tij passed without other casualty than the rccep- 

army dis- |j,„j qJ- |^|w ^j, gixtv Germans, w ho deserted from the 

covered "^ 

entieach- enemy, and from w!iom their situation was well under- 
edonihe stood. The morning of the 10th found tlie tr.)ops still 
above the deficient in provisions; it rained, and the ainiy did not 
march until the afternoon : our tVont reached Sarat!»ga 
about four o'clock, where we discovered the British army 
encamped on the heights beyond the Fish-kill, General 
Fellows's corps on the opposite bank of the river, and 
the batteaux of the enemy at the mouth of the ci eek, with 
a fatigue party busily employed unloading and conveyins: 



Fish-kill. 



GENERAL WILKINSON. 285 

their contents across tlie plain to the hei.^hts. The com- CH \P. 
ii)an<liri|? officer of artillery. Major Stevens, gallant, vi- ,2^1-. 
gilarit, anfl ready to improve every advantage, ran a 
couple of light pieces* down on the plain near the river, 
and opened a hattery upon the batteaux and working 
party at the landing, which soon dispersed it; but he 
drew the fire of the enemy's whole park upon him from 
the heiglits, which obliged him to retire after the Imss of 
a tumbril, which was blown up by a sliot from the enemy, 
and caused a shout from the whole British army. 

The arm} took a position in the wood on the heights, 
in several lines, their right resting on the brow of the 
hill, about a mile in rear of the Fish-kill, Colonel Mor- 
gan being in front and near flie church. I made it my 
invariable duty personally to see the guards and pickets 
of tlif night posted. Having performed this service, [ re- 
turned to the General's quarters about 11 o'clock, which 
I ff'und in a small hovel, about ten feet square, at the 
foot of the hill, out of which it had been partially dug; 
the floor had been prepared by nature : in one corner 
four forks with cross pieces, supported the boards which 
received the General's pallet, and in another some clean 
straw and a pair of blankets, with my saddle for a pillow, 
furnished me a comfortable birth. On entering I found 
a candle burning on a small camp table, and the General 
awake. He called my attention to an order which lay 
upon the table. I do not find this order recorded in my 

orderly book, but it was of the following effect : •« The General 

order for 
armij will advance at i-eveille to-morrow mornings Mor- ^^e ad- 

gan''s corps to keep the heights on the left, and the main vance of 
body to march on the great road near the river." I could 
not approve of this movement, ani the General re- 
quired my objections. I was of opinion, " that he would 
commit himself to the enemy in their strong position." 



* The late Colonel Freeman of the artillery, was then a subaltern, 
and served one of those pieces ; his length of service, in the opinion 
of President Madison, gave him a claim to a discharge, and he was 
accordingly at the late derangement thrown aside as useless lumber. 



386 MEMOIliS BY 

CHAP. He replied, « that they were already on tiie retreat, and 
^'"' would be miles ahead of us before morning." I an- 
swered, « that lie had no assurance of this, and that 
1 had jtist left their guards on post;" and went on to 
observe, "that with siihniission I conceived we ought 
to rcconoitre, before the army marched; because should 
we, contrai'y to his calculation, explore our way through ( 
a dense fog,* and full in with the enemy posted behind 
their intrenclnnents, the consequences niiglit be destruc- 
tive." These observations appeared to have weight I 
with the General, and he ordered me to rise early to at- 
tend to the movement, and report to him ; hut he wouW 
not give up the opinion tjiat the enemy had retreated, 
and observed " it was natural that they should sacrifice 
guards to conceal their movements." 
Wilkinson I \\ as on liorscback before reveille, ajul rode directly 
reconnoi- ^^ Colonel Morgan's position, a mile in advance; but bc- 

tre, and f,)i'c I reached it he had decamj)ed, and with some diffi- 

meets 

Colonel cuity had crossed the Fish-kill on a raft of loose logs, at 

Morpn the foot of a mill pond about three-fourths of a mile above 
the Saratoga mills. I forded the creek at a deep and 
rapid ford just helow the dam, and as I mounted the op- 
posite bank, heard several shot in my front ; the fog as 
usual being so thick that I could not distinguish objects 
at twenty paces. I pressed forward in the direction of 
the sound, and soon fell in with our elite, which had re- 
coiled ; and was informed by Colonel Morgan, that he 
was advancing agreeably to orders, and had fallen in 
with a picket of the enemy, by whose fire he had lost an 
officer (a Lieutenant Harrison I think,) and two privates. 
He was of opinion, the main body of the enemy had not 
moved, but could not ascertain the fact; he knew the 
creek was in his rear, disliked his situation, and was de- 
sirous to change it, but was a stranger to the ground. I 
had examined it during the retreat of the army in Au- 
gust, and knew that a (urn of the creek would render his 
situation critical, in case the enemy should press him. I 

* Fogs were invariable every morning, except when it rained. 



GENERAL WILKINSON. 367 

vhercfore advised liim to incline to lils left, and tlirovv his chap. 
corps into aii", and promised to siippoi't him with two ^"• 
biii^ades. 1 liastened to head quarters, rep irtcd to the 
General, and received instructions to order Patterson's 
and Learned's brigades to support Morgan. Having 
performed this duty, and conducted General Learned* 
across the creek, I returned to the main column in the 
road, which had halted near the termination of the sharp 
lidge on the left, between the church and General Schuy- 
ler's house; I found Brigadier-generals Nixon and Glover 
and Major Stevens at the head of the troops. On inquiring 
the cause of the halt, Glover observed they were waiting 
for guides to conduct them across tiie creek. I proffered 
my services, ami at this instant Major I'ierce, an aid-de- 
camp of General Gates, rode up to me, to say from the 
General, « that the troops must immediately cross the Ti-oopsor= 

1 . It 1 f 1 It • • I • dcied to 

creek, or return to their camp." I lolt the critical im- c,oss the 

portance of the movement we were making in the dark, F's'i-kilh 
* or return 

for the fog still continued; I feared the consequences, to camp. 

trembled for my general, and was vexed at his absence. 
In this tumult of the passions, I returned an hasty an- 
swer : « Tell the General, that his own fame and the in- 
terests of the cause are at hazard; that his presence is 
necessary with the troojis." As I led off the column Ma- 
jor Stevens offered to accompany me, and we proceeded 
towards the ford, between the mills and the site of old 
Fort Lawrence, near the mouth of the creek, followed by 
an advanced guard of fifty men. nnder tlie command of, 
I think, Captain Goodalef of Putnam's regiment, the fog 
being still exceeding thick; we were directed by a path 
to the ford, and entered the creek some distance ahead 
of the guard; our horses had halted to drink, and in 
leaning down on the neck of my own, 1 cast my eyes up 

■^ lie was junior to Patterson, but the l.ittcr was general officer oi" 
'vlic day, and therefore Learned commanded, the two brigades, as both 
tlie major-generals were wounded. 

f Tliis gallant soldier, and virtuous citl.:eii, migrated to the Ohio 
after the peace, settled near Belpre, and -was murdered by the In- 
dians. 



288 MEMOIRS BY 

CHAP, to the opposite bank, and tlirough the fog discovered a 
party of men in motion. I whispered to my companion j 
Wiikinsiiu ^^^ gci'ly reined up our horses, and turned about, a rip- 
discovers pie in the water concealing the noise of our movement. 
theenemy. ^oodale had just approached the bank of the creek: I 
directed him to the enemy, and ordered him to charge, 
which he did with resolution, and rusliing upon them be- 
fore they discovered hiu-, he took a reconnoitring party 
of a subaltern and thirty-five men, witljout a shot, fro\n 
whom 1 learnt the army of the enemy were on post. The 
front of the column had by this time crossed the creek, 
the General was a mile off', and I had no authority to 
check the movement; twelve or filteen hundred men had 
passed, when the fog was suddenly dispersed, and we 
army^i's I^Jeheid tlic British army under arms; their park in our 
discover- front, and our left exposed to their centre; a heavy fire 
arms! ^^ of artillery and small arms was immediately opened 
on us, and our troops unexpectedly attacked in flank and 
front, broke and retreated over the creek in great dis- 
order. A standing order had been issued the day before, 
with a view to the most prompt co-opeiation of our whole 
force, viz. «' That in case of an attack against any point, 
tchether fronts Jtank or rear, the troops are to fall on the ene- 
my at all quarters." We had not yet heard from the corps 
of General Learned, and it occurred to me, that, deceived 
by the firing on our right, he might be led into a disad- 
vantageous attack. I instantly clapped spurs to my horse, 
crossed the creek at the ford below the mill dam, and 
reached the front of the two brigades, at about two hun- 
dred yards from Burgoyne's strongest post, on the crown 
of the hill west of the creek, which was occupied by the 
grenadiers, light infanti-y, and other corps. The troops 
were advancing by files from the right of platoons, and 
had just entered the ground which had been cleared off 
hy the enemy, in frf>nt of their retrenchment, which was 
abbatised. If I had been three minutes later, our left 
wing would Iiave been engaged under every disadvan- 
tage, at the time the right had given way, and the conse- 
quences might have been calamitous. I found General 



GENERAL WILKINSON. 289 

LcaClMied near the centre, and begged him to halt, which chap. 
was immediately done, by passing the word to tlie right ^'^• 

and left, I tlien observed to him, that "lie must re- „, n, 

WiiKinson 

treat." He asked me, «< Have you orders ?" I answer- halts Co- 
ed liim, *» 1 have not, as the exigency of the case did not ,^gj.g ^^^/ 
allow mc time to sec General Gates." He observed, g <^'f o'^ 
« Our bretliren are engaged on the right, and the stand- authority, 
ing order is to attack." I informed him " our troops on 
the riglit have retired, and the fire you hear is from 
the enemy j" and I added, "although I have no orders 
for your retreat, I pledge my life for the General's ap- 
probation." By this time several field officers had join- 
ed us, and among them I remember Lieutenant-colonels 
Brooks* and Tupper, who approved the proposition, and 
General Learned accorded : it then became a question 
how we should retire, and it was agreed as the most 
prompt and least exposed movement, to come to the 
riglit about, and march by the left. The enemy were 
watching our motions with shouldered arms; and the 
moment the troops came about, they opened upon us with Enemy 

their artillery and small arms, and killed an officer and ?P^" ^''^"^ 
•' nre upon 

several men, before we were masked by the wood. The the two 

two brigades fell back about half a mile to a field, where '^^'K^'^^s 

'^ ' while 

they took a strong position, which they fortified and held changing 

until the surrender of the British army; Morgan's corps P°^'*'^"' 
being on their left, and extended in rear of the enemy's 
right : the brigades of Glover and Nixon after their re- 
pulse resinned their positions on the heights west of the 
great road; and the remainder of the 11th and the whole 
of the 12th and loth passed without any notable occur- 
reuce, except affairs of pickets and several brisk can- 
nonades, unless the augmentation of our militia force from 
all (]uarters, and the following correspondence between 
General Gates and General Burgoyne, may be so con- 
sidered. 

* Governor of Massachusetts". 

VOL. I. O 



SDO MEMOIRS BY 

CHAP. 

VII. • « Saratoga, Oct. ±2th, ±777. 

"Sir, 

« I had tlic lionour to receive your excellency's letter 
by Lady Ackland. The respect due to her ladyship's 
rank, the tenderness due to her person and sex, were 
alone sufficient recommendations, to entitle her to my 
protection; and considering my preceding conduct, with 
respect to those of your army, whom the fortune of war 
has placed in my hands, I am surprised your excellency, 
should think, that I could consider the greatest attention 
to Lady Ac kland in the light of an obligation. 

« The cruelties wliich mark the retreat of your army.. 
in burning the gentiemens' and farmers' houses as it 
passed along, is almost, among civilised nations, without 
precedent; they should not endeavour to ruin those they 
could not conquer; their conduct betrays more of the vin- 
^ dictive malice of a monk than the generosity of a soldier. 

« Your friend Sir Francis Clark, by the information oi 
Doctor Potts, the director-general of my iiospital, lan- 
guishes under a very dangerous wound, every sort of 
tenderness and attention is paid to him, as well as to all 
the wounded, who have fallen into my hands, and the 
hospital which you was necessitated to leave to my mercy. 

«< At the solicitation of Major Williams, I am prevail- 
ed upon to offer him and Major Milborn in exchange 
for Colonel Ethan Allen. Your objections to my last 
proposals for the exchange of Colonel Ethan Allen, I 
must consider as trifling, as I cannot but suppose that the 
Generals of the Royal Armies act in equal concert, with 
those of the Generals of the Armies of the United States^ 

« The bearer delivers a number of letters from the offi- 
cers of your army, taken prisoners in the action of the 
7th instant. 

« I am, Sir, &c. 
(Signed) "HORATIO GATES. 

se General Burgoyne.''* 



GENERAL WILKINSON. 2Qi 

CHAP. 

<f Saratoga^ Oct. 12th, 1777, vii. 

« Lieutenant-general Burgoync presents his compli- 
ttieiits to Major-general Gates, and will send an answer 
to Jiis letter with the officers' baggage as soon as possible.'' 

I shall conclude this chapter with the following extract 
from a narrative published in tiie German language at 
Berlin, in 1800. It is from the pen of the amiable, the 
accomplished afid dignified Baroness Reidesel, whose 
charming blue eyes, I have more than once seen bedewed 
with tears at the recital of her sufferings. This lady 
Hiih t^\o infant children accompanied her husband Major- 
gi neial the Baron Reidesel from Germany to England, 
from England to Canada, and from the last place to the 
termination of General Burgoyne's campaign, in which 
she suffered more than the horrors of the grave in their , 

most tViglitful aspect ; an imperfect translation does not 
render justice to the style of Madam Reidesel, but the 
artless interesting tale furnishes strong proof of its au- 
thenticity. I trust I sii.'.ll be pardoned for presenting 
it to my fair readers, and whilst it serves to explain 
and wind up some of the distressing scenes, which 
were passing in the enemy's canip, at and after the 
actions I have been describing, it furnishes a glimpse 
of the horrors of war. I trust it o>ay warn my charm- 
ing countrymen against the miseries, to which the high- 
ly accomplished authoress, and her interesting friend 
and fellow sufferer, Lady Harriet Ackhmd, were so im- 
minently exposed. Would to heaven that it might produce 
another effect, which I consider vitally essential to the 
permanent tranquillity of these states; were my honour- 
ed countrywomen to consult patriot duty and personal 
happiness, they would avert their eyes from and shut their 
ears to 

*< The neighing steed and the loud trump, 

«' The spirit stirring drum, and the shrill fife, 

« The royal banner, and all quality, 

<« Pride, pomp and cirGumstance of glorious war." 



292 MEMOIRS BY 

CHAP. And then no more would exterior trappings and a flip- 
pant air, seduce (lie heart from the contemplation of the 
social virtues, of improved understanding and refined 
sensibility; robbed of their praise and their patronage, 
the overwhelming thirst for military gloiy would be al- 
layed, and excellence in the more solid and useful pursuits 
of civil life, would excite the rivahy of the rising genera- 
tion ; and the great cause of morality and I'cligion would be 
prr)moted, to support the constitution of our country ; 
and to the honour of the American fair it might be said, 
that they tamed 

« tlie spiiit of wild war, 



« That like a lion fostered up at hand, 
« It may lie gently at the foot of peace." 

Extract from the Baroness ReideseVs JWirrative. 

«<As we had to march still furtlier, I ordered a large 
calash to be built capable of holding my three children, 
myself and two female servants, in this manner we mov- 
ed with the army in tiie midst of the soldiery who were 
very merry, singing songs and panting for action. We 
had to travel through almost impassable woods and a most 
picturesque and beautiful country, which was abandoned 
by its inhabitants who had repaired to the standard of 
General Gates; they added much to his strength, as they 
were all good marksmen and fitted by habit for the spe- 
cies of warfare, the contending parties were then engag- 
ed in — and the love of their country inspired them with 
more than ordinary courage. The army had shortly to 
encamp: I generally remained about an hour's march in 
the rear, where I received daily visits from my husband; 
the army was frequently engaged in small affairs, but 
nothing of importance took place; and as the reason w^as 
getting cold. Major Williams of the artillery proposed to * 
have a house built for me with a chimney, observing that 
it would not cost more than 5 or 6 guineas, and that the 
frequent change of quarters was vei-y inconvenient to me, 
it was accordingly built, and was called the Block house. 



GENERAL WILKINSON. 393 

from its square form and the resemblance it bore to those chap. 
buildings. 

" On the 19th September an affair happened, which, 
although it turned out to our advantage, yet obliged us 
to halt at a place called Freeman's farm ; I was an eye 
wifness to the whole affair, and as my husband was en- 
gaged in it, I was full of anxiety and trembled at every 
shot I heard ; 1 saw a great number of the wounded, and 
what added to the distress of the scene, three of them 
were brought into the house in which I took shelter; one 
was a Major Harnage of the 62d British regiment, the 
husband of a lady of my acquaintance, another was a 
Lieutenant married to a lady, with whom I had the ho- 
nour to he on terms of intimacy, and the third was an 
officer of the name of Young. 

♦* In a sliort time afterwards I heard groans proceed- 
ing from a room near mine, and knew they must have 
been occasioned by the sufferings of the last mentioned 
officer, who lay writhing in his wounds. 

*« His mournful situation interested me much, and the 
more so, because the recollection of many polite atten- 
tions, received from a family of that name during my 
visit to England, was still forcibly impressed on my 
mind. I sent to him and begged him to accept my best 
services, and afterwards furnished him with food and 
refreshments; he expressed a great desire to see me, po- 
litely calling me his benefactress. I accordingly visited 
him, and found him lying on a little straw, as he had lost 
his equipage. He was a young man 18 or 19 years of 
age, and really the beloved nephew of the Mr. Young, 
the head of the family I have mentioned, and the only 
son of his parents. This last circumstance was what he 
lamented most, as to his pain he tliought lightly of it. 
He had lost much blood, and it was thought necessary to 
amputate the leg, but this he would not consent to, and of 
course a mortification took place. I sent him cushions 
and coverings, and my female friends sent him a mat- 
tress. I redoubled my attention to him and visited him 
every day, for which I received a thousand wishes for my 



S94 MEMOIRS BY 

CHAP happiness. At last liis limb was amputated, but it was 



V!I. 



too late, and he died the following day. As he lay in the 
next room to me, and the partition was very thin, I dis- 
tinctly heard his last sigh, wlien his immortal part quit- 
ting its frail tenement, and I trust, winged its way to the 
mansions of eternal bliss, 

" But severe trials awaited us, and on the 7th October 
our misfortunes began ; I was at breakfast witli my hus- 
band, and heard that something was intended. On the 
same day 1 expected Generals Burgoyne, Phillips and 
Fraser to dine with us. I saw a great movement among 
the troops ; my husband told me, it was merely a recon- 
iioissance, which gave me no concern as it often happened. 
I walked out of the house and met several Indians in 
their war dresses, with guns in their hands. When I 
asked them where they were going, they cried out War! 
War! (meaning that they were going to battle.) This fill- 
ed me with apprehension, ^and I had scarcely got home, 
before 1 heard reports of cannon and musketry which 
grew louder by degrees, till at last the noise became ex- 
cessive. About 4 o'clock in the afternoon, instead of the 
guests whom J expected, General Fraser was brought on 
a liiter mortally wounded. The table, which was alrea- 
dy set, was instantly removed, and a bed placed in its 
stead for the wounded General. I sat trembling in a 
corner; the noise grew louder and the alarm increased; 
the thought that my husband might perhaps be brought 
in, wounded in the same manner, was terrible to me, and 
distressed me exceedingly. General Fraser said to the 
surgeon, " iell me if my wound is mortal^ do not Jlatter 
me." The ball had passed through his body, and unhap-> 
pily for the General, he had eaten a very hearty break- 
fast, by wliicfi the stomach was distended, and the ball, 
as the surgeon said, had passed through it. I heard him 
often exclaim with a sigh, "Oh fatal ambitioiv! Pook 
General Burgoyne ! On my poor wife !" He was 
asked if he had any request to make, to which he replied, 
that " IF General Burgoyne would permit it, he 

SHOULD LIKE TO BE BURIED AT 6 o'CLOCK IN THE EVEN- 



GENERAL WILKINSON. 29B 

ING OPT THE TOP OF A MOUNTAIN, IN A REDOUBT WHICH CHAP. 

HAD BEEN BUILT THEKE." 1 tlid noi kiiuw wliich Way 
to turn, all the other rooms were full of sick. Towards 
evening I saw my husband coming, then I forgot all my 
sorrows and thanked Gud that he was spared to me. He 
ate in great haste with me and his aid-de-camp behind the 
house. We had been told that we had the advantage of 
the enemy, hut the sorrowful faces I beheld told a dilfer- 
enr tale, and before my husband went away he took me 
on one side, and said every thing was going very bad, 
that I must keep myself in readiness to leave the place, 
but not to mention it to any one. I made the pretence 
that I would move the next morning into my new house, 
and had every thing packed up ready. 

" Lady H. Ackland had a tent not far from our house, 
in this she slept, and the rest of the day she was in the 
camp. All of a sudden, a man came to tell her that her 
husband was mortally wounded and taken prisoner; on 
hearing this she became very miserable, we comforted 
her by telling her,tliat the wound was only slight, and at 
the same time advised her to go over to her husband, to do 
which she would certainly obtain permission, and then 
she could attend him herself; she was a charming woman 
and very fond of him. I spent much of the night in com- 
forting her, and then went again to my children whom I 
had put to bed. I could not go to sleep, as I had General 
Eraser and all the other wounded gentlemen in my room, 
and I was sadly afraid my children would awake and by 
their crying, disturb the dying man in his last moments, 
who often addressed me and apologised "/oj- the trouble 
h£gave me.** About 3 o'clock in the morning I was told 
he could not hold out much longer; I had desired to be 
informed of the near approach of this sad crisis, and I 
then wrapped up my children in their clothes, and went 
with them into the room below. About 8 o'clock in the 
morning he died. After he was laid out and his corpse 
wrapped up in a sheet, we came again into the room, and 
had this sorrowful sight before us the whole day, and to 
add to the melancholy scene, almost every moment some 



396 MEMOIRS BY 

CHAP, officer ol'my acquaintance was brouarlit in wounded. I'lie 

VII 

^^^_^^^^^ cannonade commenced ag*ain ; a retreat was s})i»kt;n of, 
but nottlie smallest motion was made towards it. About 
4 o'clock in the afternoon I sa ^ the house which had just 
been built for me in flames, and the enemy was now not 
far ofY. We knew that General Bui'goyne would not re- 
fuse tlie last request of General Fraser, though by his ac- 
ceding to it, an unnecessary delay was occasionetl, by 
which the inconvenience of the army was much increas- 
ed. At 6 o'clock the corpse was brought out, and we saw 
all the Generals attend it to the mountain ; the chaplain, 
Mr. Brudenell, performed the funeral service, rendered 
unusually solemn and awful from its being accom- 
panied by constant peals from the enemy's artillery. 
Many cannon balls flew close by me, but I had my eyes 
directed towards the mountain,* where my husband was 
standing, amidst the fire of the enemy, and of course, I 
could not think of my own danger. 

" General Gates afterwards said, that if he had known 
it had been a funeral he would not have permitted it to be 
fired on." 

• The height occupied by Burgoyne on the 18th, which ran paral 
lei with the river until it approached General Gates's camp. 



GENERAL WILKINSON. 997 



CHAPTER VIIL 



Communication hettveen General Bursovnc and General chap. 

VIII 

Gates. — Colonel Wilkinson meets the British majorj i^^-v-^-. 
Kingston, at the advanced posts, and conducts him to 
head quarters, — His introduction to General Gates. — ■ 
Proves to be an old acquaintance. — Reads a message 
from General Burgoyiie, and receives General Gates^s 
proposals in return. — Conversation ivhich ensued. — He is 
escorted back to the advanced pant. — Colonel Wilkinson 
suggests to General Gates the advantage he has given the 
enemy, by being Jirst to name the grounds of surrender. 
— General Gates's reply. — Major Kingston returns with 
a flag. — Counter-proposals made by General Burgoyne, 
and assented to by General Gates. — Colonel Wilkinson 
and General Whipple appointed to meet Lieutenant-colonel 
Sutherland and Colonel Craig, to draw up a convention, 
— They form articles, which are approved by their re- 
spective generals. — Captain Craig* s letter of the 15th to 
Colonel Wilkinson, with his answer. — General Burgoyne's 
message of the ±6th to General Gates. — Wilkinson autho- 
rised to answer it. — Meets Generals Burgoijne, Phillips, 
Reidesel, Hamilton, Gall and Specht.—High military cha- 
racters of the British officers, contrasted with Wilkinson^ s 
inexperience. — Conversation between General Burgoyne 
and Colonel Wilkinson. — The truce dissolved. — Wilkinson 
retires. — Is recalled. — General Burgoijne asks time to 
consult his officers. — This is granted. — Wilkinson waits 
the result at the American picket. — Jl messenger from 
General Gates, by whom he transmits a brief account of 
his proceedings. — The truce expires. — The British Lieu- 
tenant-colonel Sutherland crosses the creek. — Conversa- 
tion between him and Wilkinson. — He returns with Cap- 
tain Craig's letter.— -Impatience of General Gates at the 
delay. — Convention is signed, with an additional article, 

VOL. I. P p 



29S 



MEMOIRS BY 



CHAP. 
VIIL' 

Corres- 
pondence 
between 
General 
Gates and 
General 
Burgoyne. 



specifically i7iclndi7ig General Burgoyne. — Wilkinson prt' 
sents the convention to General Gates, who assents to the 
additional article. — The convention andjield return of the 
forces which surrendered, — Rejlections on the convention. 
-—Intended operations of the enemyf in the event of the 
convention not being signed. — Meeting between Generals 
Burgoijne and Gates. — Ms staff is introduced to the lat' 
ter. — Wilkinson^ sinking under disease, is conveyed to 
Mbany. — In this state is despatched to Congress, with 
the convention. — General Gates's letter to President Han-. 
cockfOflSth JVbv. 1777. — Wilkinson proceeds on his jour- 
ney. — Reaches Easton, where he meets Dr. Shippen and 

Mrs. ^, and has a conversation respecting General 

Conwaifs letter. — His interview xvith General Mifflin at 
Reading. — Comvay^s letter again mentioned. — Arrives at 
Congress, and delivers his despatches. — Has an audience 
of that honourable body. — Perceives a disposition in cer- 
tain members to depreciate the importance of the conven- 
tion, — Determines to defeat their plan. — Frames a mes- 
sage from General Gates to Congress, which he delivers 
with sundry documents to the house. — Receives the brevet 
of brigadier-general. — Sets out to the grand army.' — Calls 
at Reading, and spends some days there.— Character of 
Edward Biddle, esq. and of Jilexander Gray don. — Visits 
the camp at White Marsh. — Reception by General Wash- 
ington. — Interview with General Conway. — JVUrrativtf 
of the Baroness Rsidesel continued. 

Returning to our hovel on the night of tlie ISthj 
after posting the guards, tlie General, who had been 
asleep, awoke, and desired me to read the following 
notes. 

« October 13th, 1777. 

"Lieutenant-general Burgoyne is desirous of sending 
a field officer to Major-general Gates, upon a matter of 
high moment to both armies. The Lieutenant-general 
requests to be informed at what time General Gates will- 
receive liim to-morrow morning. 

«< Major-general Gates,'* 



GENERAL WILKINSON^ 299 

CHAP. 

« Camp at Saratoga^ 9 o'clock^ P. M, viii. 
« Oct. 15th, 1777. v.^-><^^ 

** Major-general Gates will receive a field officer from 
Lieutenant-general Burgoyne, at the advanced post of 
the army of the United States, at 10 o'clock to-morrow 
morning, from whence he will be conducted to head 
quarters. 

« Lieutenant-general Burgotjne." 

After the perusal of them, I asked him whether he had 
not condescended improperly in agreeing to receive the 
deputy of his adversary at his head quarters, within his 
guards, and between the lines of his army ? After a mi- 
nute's reflection he replied, " You are right, young man 5 ^ 
I was hasty; but what's to be done?" "I will meet the 
flag," said I, " and endeavour to draw the message from 
the officer ; but if he claims your engagement, he must 
be admitted." « Agreed," said he, « do so;" and at the 
hour appointed I repaired to the advanced post, accom- 
panied by Mr. Henry Livingston,* of the Upper Manor 
on the Hudson's river. The bridge across the Fish-kill 
had been destroyed, but the sleepers remained. We did 
not wait many minutes before the chamade was beat at 
the advanced guard of the enemy, and an officer descend- Wilkinson 
ing the hill, stepped across the creek on one of the sleep- g^j^igu^* 
ers of the late bridge ; it was *« Major Kingston, with a Major 
message from Lieutenant-general Burgoyne to Major- ^/"he^^" 
general Gates." I named to him " Colonel Wilkinson, advanced 
on the part of General Gates, to receive the message.'* P°^'' 
He paused a moment, pulled out a paper, looked at it, 
and observed, "My orders direct me to Major-general 
Gates." *' It is to save time and trouble that I am au- 
thorised to receive the message you bear." He then took 
General Gates's note to General Burgoyne from his 
pocket, read it, and said «< General Gates has agreed to 
receive the message, and I am not authorised to deliver 

* Since a major-g'eneral of the milltta of New Yorfc 



300 MEMOIRS BY 

CHAP, it to any other person." " Well then, Sir, you must sub- 
^^"' niit to be hood-winked." He affected to start at the pro- 
position, and objected, on the ground of its being an in- 
dignity : I could but smile at the expression, and ob- 
served, that « I had understood there was nothing more 
common, than to blindfold military messengers, when 
they were admitted within tlie walls of a place, or 
the guards of a camp." He replied, " Well, Sir, I will 
submit to it, but under the express stipulation, that 
no indignity is intended to the British arms." I then 
carefully bound up his eyes with his own handker- 
chief; he took my arm, and in this way we walked up- 
wards of a mile to head quarters. Major Kingston ap- 
peared to be about forty ; he was a well formed, ruddy, 
handsome man, and expatiated with taste and eloquence 
on the beautiful scenery of the Hudson's river, and the 
charms of the season : when I introduced him into Ge- 
neral Gates's tent, and named him, the gentlemen saluted 
each other familiarly, with « General Gates, your ser- 
vant," — "Ah! Kingston, how do you do?" and a shake 
of the hand. Being seated a few minutes, he arose and 
observed he had certain communications to make Major- 
' general Gates from Lieutenant-general Burgoyne, and 
to guard against inaccuracy of memory, he had commit- 
ted them to paper, and with permission would read them. 
The General consented, and the Major took from his 
pocket and read. 



Reads his Memorandum of a Message delivered by Major Kingston, 
message from Lieutenant-general Burgoyne to Major-general 

from 

General t^ates. 

Burgoyne. 

« The General from a great deal of business did not 
yesterday answer your letter about the officers, but in- 
tended it. 

«« In regard to the reproaches made upon this army of 
burning the country, they are unjust; General Schuyler's 
house and adjacent buildings remained protected till Ge- 
neral Gates's troops approached the Ford, General Bur- 



GENERAL WILKINSON. 301 

goyne avows the order for setting fire at that time to chap 
every thing that covered the movement. ^'"' 

« The barracks particularly took fire by mere acci- 
dent, and measures were taken, though ineffectual, to 
save them. If there has been any vindictive spirit in 
burning other buildings on the march, it has probably 
been employed by some secret well-wishers to the Ame- 
rican cause, as General Burgoyne has been informed 
some of the buildings belonged to supposed friends of 
the king. The General does not think that General 
Gates has a right, from any thing tliat has appeared in 
his conduct or reasoning, to make use of the term tri- 
fling j and he still persists, that he cannot interfere 
with the prisoners in General Howe's army, and more 
especially in a case that has been under negociation be- 
tween General Howe and General Washington." 

He added that General Gates would perceive this was 
an answer to his letter of the 12th, and that the other 
paper to which he claimed the General's attention was 
of a very different nature; he then offered the following 
propositions. 

« I am directed to represent to you from General Bur- 
goyne, that after having fought you twice, he has waited, 
some days in his present position determined to try a 
third conflict against any force you could bi'ing to attack 
him. 

" He is apprised of the superiority of your numbers, 
and the disposition of your troops to impede his supplies 
and render his retreat a scene of carnage on both sides. 
In this situation he is impelled by humanity, and thinks 
himself justified by established principles and precedents 
of state and of war, to spare the lives of brave men upon 
honourable terms ; should Major-general Gates be inclin- 
ed to treat upon that idea. General Burgoyne would pro- 
pose a cessation of arms, during the time necessary to 
communicate the preliminary terms, by which in any ex- 
tremity he and army mean to abide." 



30S MEMOffiS BY 

CHAP. So soon as he had finished, to my utter astonishment, 
^ ■ General Gates put his hand to his side pocket, pulled out 
General * paper, and presented it to Kingston, observing « There, 
Gates de- Sir, are the terms on which General Burgoyne must sur- 
proposals ^'^^^der.'' The Major appeared thunderstruck, but r6ad 
for Gene- the paper, whilst tlie old chief surveyed him attentively 
goyne's through his spectacles. Having finished the perusal of 
surrender, the propositions of General Gates, Major Kingston ap- 
peared exceeding!}' mortified, and said to the General, 
« I must beg leave to decline delivering this paper to 
Lieutenant-general Burgoyne, because, although I can- 
not presume to speak for him, I think the propositions 
it contains cannot he submitted to." The General ob' 
served that he might be mistaken, and that there could 
be no impropriety in his delivering them. Kingston re- 
quested they might be sent by one of his own officers, 
which the General declined, and remarked, " that as h& 
had brought the message, he ought to take back the an- 
swer;** to vv^hich the Major reluctantly consented, took 
leave, and I again filletted him, and at his request con- 
ducted him to our advanced guard. Very different was 
his conversation in returning : he complained of General 
Gates's propositions, to which I was still a perfect 
stranger ,• talked of the pride and spirit of his army, and 
called my recollection to the feats performed by six Bri- 
tish regiments at the battle of Minden. I felt for his 
chagrin, and said nothing to increase it; and having 
passed him beyond our guards, I hastened back to head 
quarters, filled with uneasiness by the course which Ge- 
neral Gates had adopted. 

As soon as I returned, I yielded to the prescriptions 
of duty and affection, and inquired of the General whe- 
ther " he had not given Burgoyne an advantage, by not 
waiting to receive his overtures, before he presented his 
own terms?" He could see none. I then inquired "whe- 
ther he meant, in any extremity, to recede from the pro- 
positions he had made ?" He admitted that he did, and 
would relax a great deal to get possession of the enemy's 
arms. I did not venture to oppose my inexperience to 



GENERAL WILKINSON. 303 

his knowledge, but observed, " that in the capitulations chap. 
of Cape Breton, Quebec, Montreal, and other places, ^^^^' 
which I had read, the propositions were made by the be- 
sieged, and were granted, modified, or refused, by the 
besiegers, at their discretion; but that having offered 
conditions by which he did not mean to abide, I was 
fearful Burgoyne would dictate the terms of surrender." 
After musing some time, he clapped me on the shoulder, 
and exclaimed with much complacency and affection, 
<* Wilky,* you are right again; but it is done, and we General 
must make the most of it; I shall be content to get the SfseTva- 
arms out of their hands." tions in 

About sun-set the same day it was notified to me that a ^^^ ^' 
flag waited at the advanced guard, and [ proceeded to re- 
ceive it. I again met Major Kingston, who presented ano- Major 
ther message from Lieutenant-general Burgoyne to Ma- returns 
jor-general Gates, accompanied by the propositions of the with the 
latter, which had been transmitted by Major Kingston, proposals 
and the answers of the former annexed, together with the "f General 

,. . . , 1 1 /-, 1 T» Burgoyne, 

preliminary articles, proposed by General Burgoyne, to which 
which were substantially assented to by General Gates, general 
and thus my apprehensions were verified. Burgoyne sents. 
made his own convention, and saved his accoutrements, 
military chest,f and colours,:|: all of which were retained 

• A familiar designation fixed on me at Ticonderog'a, in 1776, by 
that excellent officer, my friend Colonel Matt. Ogden, of the Jerseys. 

f Examination of Colonel Kingston, deputy adjutant-general of Lieute- 
nant BurgoT/tie's army before the House of Commons. 

" Question. — What became of the rest of the money in the military 
chest ? 

" Answer. — It was taken by the paymaster-general to Albany. 
*' Question. — Did any part of it fall into the hands of the enemy I 
" Ans7uer.-r-'Sot a shilling that I ever heard of.'" 

^ Extract from the Memoirs of the Baroness qf Reidesel, published at 
Berlin, 1800. 

" General Reidesel commanded that the colours should not be sur- 
rendered to the enemy with the arms, but on the contrary that the 
Staffs should be burnt and the flags carefully packed up, tliis was done 
JUS ordered," so that each of the German regijnents really krpt posses- 



304 



MEMOIRS BY 



CHAP. 
VIII. 



notwithstanding General Gates's letter* to Con.i^ress of 
the 3d December, 1777, which was unworthy a soldier. 



General Gates^s Propositions, with General Burgoyne's 
Answers, 



« 1st. — General Bur- 
goyne's army being exceed- 
ingly reduced by repeated 
defeats, by desertion, sick- 
ness, &c. Their provisions 
exhausted, their military 
stores, tents and baggage 
taken or destroyed; their 
retreat cut off, and their 
camp invested, they can 
only be allowed to surren- 
der prisoners of war. 

« 2rf. — Tiie officers and 
soldiers may keep the bag- 
gage belonging to them. 
The Generals of the United 
States never permit indivi- 
duals to be pillaged. 

(( sd. — Tlic troops under 
Iiis excellency General Bur- 
goyne, will be conducted by 
the most convenient route 
to New England, marching 
by easy marches, and suffi- 
ciently provided for by the 
way. 

" i'th. — The officers will 
be admitted on parole, may 



*< Lieutenant-gen'l. Bur- 
goyne's army however re- 
duced, will never admit 
that their retreat is cut off, 
while they have arms in 
their hands. 



« This article is answer- i 
ed by General Burgoyne's f 
first proposal, which is 
hereunto annexed. 



"There being no officer 
in this army under, or ca- 



s"ion of their colours ; and the same was, no doubt, the case with tiie 
British corps, as the colours of the 62d regiment particularly were on 
the field the I9th September, and three or four Ensigns were killed, j^ 

• See Gordon, Vol. II. page 299. 



GENERAL WILKINSON. 



305 



wear their side arms, and 
will be treated with the li- 
berality customary in Eu- 
rope, so loiij^ as they by 
proper behaviour continue 
to deserve it; but those who 
are apprehended having 
broken their parole, (as 
some British officers have 
done) must expect to be 
cU)se confined. 

<« Bth. — All public stores, 
artillery, arms, ammuni- 
tion, carriages, horses, &c. 
&c. must be delivered to 
commissaries appointed to 
receive them. 

a 6th. — These terms be- 
ing agreed to, and signed, 
the troops under his excel- 
lency General Burgoyne's 
command, may be drawn 
up in their encampment, 
when they will be ordered 
to ground their arms, and 
may thereupon be marched 
to the river side, to be pass- 
ed over in their way to- 
wards Bennington. 

« 7th. — A cessation of 
arms to continue till sunset, 
to .receive General Bur- 
goyne's answer. 

« HORATIO GATES. 
" Camp at Saratoga^ 
±4th Oct. 1777." 



pable of being nnder the chap. 
description of breaking pa- ^"*' 
role, tliis article needs no 
answer. 



« All public stores may 
be delivered, arms except- 
ed. 



«' This article inadmLs- 
sable in any extremity; 
sooner than this army will 
consent to ground their 
arms in their encampment, 
they will rush on the ene- 
my, determined to take no 
quarter. 

« J. BURGOYNE." 



(^^Messagefrom General Bitrgoyne 
to Geiieral Gates, delivered by jyfa- 
jor Kingston, to Colonel Wilkinson. 

" If General Gates does not mean 
to recede from the first and sixth arti- 
cles of his proposals, the treaty to end 
and hostilities immediately to cem- 
mence. 

« October \Ath, 1777" 



\01a I. 



Qq 



3oa 



MEMOIRS BY 



CHAP, 
VIII. 



General Burgoyne^s preliminary articleSf with General 
Gates^s answers. 



*< The annexed answers 
being given to Major-gene- 
ral Gates's proposals, it re- 
mains for Lieutenant-gene- 
ral Burgoyne, antl the ar- 
my nnder his command, to 
state the following prelimi- 
nary article's on their part. 

<« 1st. — The troops to 
march out of their camp 
with the honours of war, 
and the artillery of the in- 
trenchments, which will be 
left as hereafter, may he 
regulated. 



*< 2d. — A free passage to 
be granted to this army to 
Great Britain upon condi- 
tion of not serving again in 
North America during the 
present contest, and a pro- 
per post to be assigned for 
the entry of transports to 
receive the troops, when- 
ever General Howe shall so 
order. 

« Sd. — Should any cartel 
take place by which this 
army or any part of it may 
be exchanged, the forego- 
ing article to be void as far 
as such exchange shall be 
made. 



« Is^. — The troops to 
n»arcli out of their camp, 
Avith the honours of war, 
and the artillery of tlie in- 
trenchments to the verge of 
the river, where the old 
fort stood, where their arms 
and the artillery must be 
left. 

« Qd — Agreed to, for the 
port of Boston. 



« 3d. — Agreed. 



GENERAL WILKINSON. 



807 



ii 4th. — AH officers to re- 
tain their carriages, batt- 
horses and other cattle, and 
110 baggage to be molested 
or searched, the Lieutenant- 
general giving his honour 
that there are no j)ub!ic 
stores secreted therein, Ma- 
jor-general G.ites will of 
course take the necessary 
measures for the security of 
this article. 

« 5th. — Upon the march 
the officers arc not to be se- 
parated from their men, and 
in quarters the officers are 
to be lodged according to 
rank, and are not to be liin- 
dered from assembling their 
men for roll callings, and 
other necessary purposes of 
regularity. 

«' 6th, — There are va- 
rious corps in the army 
composed of sailors, bat- 
teauxmen,artificers,drivers,. 
independent companies, and 
followers of the army, and 
it is expected that those 
persons of whatever coun- 
try, shall be included in 
the fullest sense ant! utmost 
extent of the above articles, 
and comprehended in every 
respect as British subjects, 

it 7th. — All Canadians 
and persons belonging to 
the establishment in Ca»a 



« 4th. — Agreed. 



CHAP. 
VOL 



« 5th. — Agreed to as far 
as circumstanoes will ad- 
mit. 



f 6th. — Agreed to in the 
fullest extent. 



*' 7th — AgrewL 



308 



MEMOIRS BY 



CHAP. 
VIII. 



da, to be permitted to re- 
turn there. 

*' Sth, — Passports to be 
immediately granted for 
three officers, not exceed- 
ing the rank of Captain, 
who siiall be apijointcd by 
General Burgoyne to car- 
ry despatclies to Sir Wil- 
liam li(We, Sir Guy Carl- 
ton, and to Great Britain 
by the way of New York, 
and the public faith to be 
engaged tliat these des- 
patches are not to be opened. 

« 9th. — The foregoing 
articles are to be consider- 
ed only as preliminaries for 
framing a treaty, in the 
course of wiiich others may 
arise to be considered by 
both parties, for which pur- 
pose it is proposed, that 
two officers of each army 
shall meet and report their 
deliberations to their re- 
spective Generals. 

*« 10th. — Lieutenant-ge- 
neral Burgoyne will send 
his deputy adjutant-gene- 
ral to receive Major-gene- 
ral Gates's answer, to-mor- 
row morning at 10 o'clock. 

(Signed) 
"J. BURGOYNE. 

*( Saratoga, Oct. ±4th, 1777." 



" Sth. — Agreed. 



" 9th. — The capitulation 
to be finished by 2 o'clock 
this day, and the troops 
march from their encamp- 
ment at live, and be in rea- 
diness to move towards 
Boston to-morrow morn- 
ing. 



" 10th. — ^Complied with. 
« Saratoga, Oct. 15th, 1777. 
« H. GATES." 



GENERAL. WILKINSON. 309 

I delivered these preliminary articles to Major King- chap. 
ston at the stipulated time, and he soon returned with ^ "^' 
another message from Lieutenant-general Burgoyne as 
follows : 

Message from General Burgoyne to General Gates, dated 
October I5th, ±777. 

« The eight first preliminary articles of Lieutenant- 
general Burgoyne's proposals, and the 2d, 3d, and 4th of 
those of Major-general Gates of yesterday, being agreed 
to, the foundation of the proposed treaty is out of dispute, 
but the several subordinate articles and regulations ne- 
cessarily springing from these preliminaries, and requir- 
ing explanation and precision, between the parties, before 
a definitive treaty can be safely executed, a longer time 
than that mentioned by General Gates in his answer to 
the 9th articles becomes indispensably necessary. Lieu- 
tenant-general Burgoyne is willing to appoint two officers 
immediately to meet two others from Major-general 
Gates, to propound, discuss, and settle those subordinate 
articles, in order that the treaty in due form may be exe- 
cuted as soon as possible, 

(Signed) « J. BURGOYNE. 

« Camp at Saratoga, 15th Oct. 1777. 

« JV. B. Major Kingston has authority to settle the 
place for the meeting of the officers proposed." 

On receiving this message the General was pleased to Brigadier- 
name me as one of his representatives, and at my request ?y"^™! 
appointed Brigadier-general Whipple of the militia, to and Colo- 
accompany me ; and by concert with Major Kingston, a ?^^ ^'^' 
tent was pitched between the advanced guards of the two meet Lieu- 
armies, on the first bank just above General Schuyler's }o,"e"^'*^*'' 
saw mill, where we met Lieutenant-colonel Nicholas Suther- 
Sutherland and Captain James H. Craig of the 47th re- crptal'if 
giment, on the afternoon of the 16th, having for our se Craig. 
cretary Major Pierce, an aid-de-camp of General Gates. 



310 MEMOIRS BY 

CHAP. Having produced and exchanged credentials, we pro- 
ceeded to discuss the objects of our appointment, and at 
8 o^cIock, P. M. we signed and exchanged articles of 
capitulation, and separated to report to our respective 
Generals. 

Having performed this service, and received the appro- 
bation of my superior, I proceeded to my daily duty, and 
on returning to head quarters about 1 1 o'clock, P. M. 
found the following note from Captain Craig, to which I 
by order immediately returned the annexed answer. 

« Camp at Saratoga^ 15th Oct. | past 10 o'clock. 
«« Sir, 
Utotefrom " Upon reporting the proceedings of this evening to 
P*:*'^ , Lieutenant-general Burgoyne I was happy to receive his 
aaiswer. approbation of and ready concurrence in every article 
that has been agreed on between us ; it however appears 
Hpon a retrospect of the treaty, that our zeal to complete 
at expeditiously lias led us unto the admission of a term 
in the title very different from his meaning, and that of the 
principal officers of this army, who have been consulted 
OB this important occasion. We have. Sir, unguardedly 
called that a treaty of capiMftiioH, which the army means 
. only as a treaty of convention. With the single alte- ' 
ration of this word. Lieutenant-colonel Sutherland and 
snyscif will meet you at the stipulated time to-morrow 
morning with the fair copy signed by General Bur- 
goyne. 

" I hope Sir, you will excuse my troubling you so late, 
but 1 thought it better than by any delay to prevent tim 
speedy conclusion of a treaty which seems to be the wish 
of both parties, and which may prevent the further effu- 
sion of blood between us, I beg your immediate answer, 
aEd am, 

« Sir, 

" Your obedient and humble servant, 
(Signed) "JAMES HENRY CRAIG. 

*« Capi, ¥rfh Reg, 
«i Colonel TVilkinsonJ'' 



GENERAL WILKINSON. 311 

«« Colonel Wilkinson's compliments to Captain Craig, chap. 
Major-.^eneral Gates will admit the alteration required. "^ ''*• 
« Oct. I5th,-^at night:' Extn.ordi- 

nary note 

On the mornin.^ of the 16th, General Gates received f^^^e- 
another message from General Burgoyne, which excited neralBur- 
a good deal of surprise and some indignation, it was in ^^^ ' 
the following terms. 

Message to Major-general Gates. 

<« In the course of the night Lieutenant-general Bur- 
goyne has received intelligence that a considerable force 
has been detaclied from the army under the command of 
Major-general Gates, during the course of the ncgocia- 
tion of the treaty depending between them. Lieutenant- 
general Bnrgoyne conceives this, if true, to be not only a 
violation of the cessation of arms, but subversive of the 
principles on which the treaty originated, viz. a great 
superiority of numbers in General Gates's army. Lieute- 
nant-general Burgoyne therefore requires that two offi- 
cers on his part, be permitted to see that the strength of 
the force now opposed to him is such as will convince 
him that no such detachments have been made, and that 
the same principles of superiority on which the treaty 
first began still exists. 

(Signed) «J. BURGOYNE. 

iiCamp at Saratoga, ±6th Oct. 1777." 

We had made no detachment, but it was a fact that se- 
veral hundred of the New York militia, whose term of 
service had expired, marched off the preceding evening 
without leave; yet I was irritated byBurgoyne's demftnd 
to examine our position and numbers, w hilst opposed to 
us in arms, because it was not only impudent, but I con- 
sidered it an insult to my General's understanding. I 
therefore hastily begged leave to wait on Burgoyne, with 
authority to answer his note, in my own manner, and the 



313 MEMOIRS BY 

CHAP. General by his consent, gave me the strongest proof of 
his confidence. 

I immediately repaired to the advance guard, beat the 
chamade and requested a subaltern officer, George Ed- 
ward Srhlagel* of the 21st regiment, who received me, 
to send for Major Kingston, whom I informed, " that I 
was charged with a verbal message from Major-general 
Gates to Lieutenant-general Burgoyne," and after some 
ceremony, I was permitted to pass between two log re- 
doubts, in the rear of which I was introduced to Lieute- 
nant-general Burgoyne, attended by Major-generals 
Pliillips and Reidesel, and Brigadier-genertils Hamilton, 
Gall and Specht. 
Wilkinson I have somc impression that my friend Mr. Livingston 
ed^tcTthe ^S^i" accompanied me, but will not be positive ; I have 
enemy's often looked back to that interview, and the incidents of 
ter^s to 'an^ ^^^^ ^^y* ^^^^^* gratitude to the invisible power which 
swer this directed my conduct; I was still a minor, when authoris- 
"** ^' ed to exercise my judgment on an occasion, which inte- 
rested the lives of thousands, and involved momentous 
national consequences. The following statement will 
best interpret the merits of my agency. 

A youth, in a plain blue frock, without other military 
insignia than a cockade and sword, I stood in the pre- 
sence of three experienced European Generals, soldiers 
Military before my birth ; Phillips had distinguished himself (and 
of Bur!^'^ received the thanks of Prince Ferdinand) at Minden in 
goyne, 1759; Burgoyne had served with credit under Count La 
and Rei- L'PP^ "" the Tagus, in 1762, and Reidesel was an eleve 
desel. of the Duke of Brunswick; yet the consciousness of my 
inexperience did not shake my purpose, and I had con- 
ceived in my mind the following message, whi( h I de- 
livered verbatim to Lieutenant-general Burgoyne from 
Major-general Gates, and afterwards furnished a copy, 
of it. 

* Said to be a natural son of George III. 



GENERAL WILKINSON. 313 

CHAP. 

Message delivered by Colonel Wilkinson to Lieutenant-ge- ^*"- 
neral Burgoijne, from Major-general Gates, Oct. 16th, 

±777. 

« Major-general Gates in justice to Ins own reputation, Wilkinson 
condescends to assure your excellency, that no violation ^essa^e* 
of the treaty has taken place on his part since the com- in answer 
nienceinent of it, the requisition, therefore, contained in B^np.^"^'^^ 
your message of this day, is inadmissible ; and as it now goyne's 
remains with your excellency to ratify or dissolve the "° ^' 
treaty. Major-general Gates expects your immediate and 
decisive reply. 

(Signed) «J. WILKINSON, 

« De-puty Mj. Gen." 

This message was respectfully received, and some con- 
versation ensued, which gave me an opening to observe, 
*' that his excellency must entertain an humble opinion 
of Major-general Gates's professional knowledge, or he 
would not have demanded permission for two of his offi- 
cers critically to examine his numbers, and of conse- 
I quence his position, whilst the British army had their 
[ arms in their hands, and that General Gates could not 
but conceive it was trifling with him." This drew out 
f General Burgoyne into a most eloquent vindication of 
his proceedings " not only his own individual repu- 
tation, but the service of the king his master, and the 
honour of the British arms, enjoined on him the most 
cautious circumspection ;" he analysed the various spe= 
cies of intelligence, from the vague camp rumour and 
the reports of deserters, up to authentic information, 
which last he averred was the nature of that he had 
received the preceding night;* he spoke in high terms 

* The fact is that a spy had got into General Burgoyne's camp the 
night before, who had met the retiring militia in his route, and 
brought information that General Clinton had taken Fert Montgo- 

VOL. I. R r 



Sii 



MEMOIRS BY 



CHAP. 

virr. 



Burgoyne 
declares 
the truce 
jnust end. 



■Wilkinson 
departs, 
and is re- 
called by 
Maj or 
Kingston. 



of the resolution of liis army, and ended by saying, " Ge- 
neral Gates has no idea of the principle and spirit which 
animates the army I command; there is not a man in it^ 
I assure you Colonel Wilkinson, who does not pant for 
action." — "But/' I replied to him, "what can the cou- 
ra.i^e of a handful of men avail, against the numbers you 
see on the hills beyond the river, and those which sur- 
round you? who, I can assure your excellency, are with 
difli( lilry restrained from falling on you at all quarters, in 
the hojje of dividing the spoils of your camp," and after 
a moment's pause, I added, <« Be pleased. Sir, to favour 
me with your determination ?" He answered, " I do not 
recede from my purpose ; the truce must end." *' At what 
time. Sir?" " In one hour." We set watches, and on 
taking leave, I observed, *' After what has passed, Gene- 
ral Burgoyne, there can be no treaty ; your fate must be 
decided by arms, and General Gates washes his hands of 
the blood which may be spilled." *' Be it so," said he, 
and I walked off with most uncomfortable sensations ; 
for our troops were much scattered, liaving encompassed 
the British army three parts out of four; the men had got 
the treaty into their heads, and had lost their passion for 
combat, and what was worse we had been advised of the 
loss of Fort Montgomery, and a rumour had just arrived 
that Esopus was b .rnt, and the enemy proceeding up 
the river; but I had not proceeded fifty rods, when Major 
Kingston ran after me and hailed; I halted, and he in- 
formed me, that General Burgoyne was desirous to say 
a few words to me; I returned, wiien he addressed me by 
observing, that «« General Gates had in the business de- 
pending between them, been very indulgent, and there- 
fore he would hope for time to take the opinion of his 
general officers, in a case of such magnitude to the two 
armies ; as it was far from his disposition to trifle in an 



mery; he therefore sought an occasion to break off the treaty, with 
an intention to leave his camp and artillery standing^, with his sick 
and followers, -nd with his musketry to make a night attack, force 
our right, and by a rapid march gain Albany, there to wait events. 



GENERAL WILKINSON. 315 

-affair of such importance." Gen. Phillips tiien spoke, CHAP. 
"«< Yes Sir, yes Sir, Gen. Burgoyne don't mean to trifle on ^"''• 
so serious an occasion : but he fqels it his duty to consult .. 

•^ Burgoyne 

his officers."* I asked what time he would require ? he requests 

two hours 
longer to 

* Thefollowing extracts from the evidence of the Earl of Balcar- j^jg ^j^. 
ras before the House of Commons, will tend to explain these de- cers, 
tails. 

" Question. — When Colonel Kingston brought back the first propo- 
sition, wherein it was specified by Major-general Gates that the army 
should lay down their arms in their entrenchments, and surrender 
prisoners of war, does your Lordship remenfber that General Bur- 
goyne, when he read them to the council, declared he would not set 
his hand to tliose conditions, or words to that effect? 

" Ansiver. — 1 think tlie words of the proposal from General Gates 
were, that the Biitish army should be ordered by word of command 
from their adjutant-general, to lay down their arms in the entrench- 
ments : it was rejected with disdain by General Burgoyne, and the 
council concurred in his indignation. 

" Question. — Were the counter-proposals penned by General Bur- 
goyne unanimously approved of? 

" Answer. — They were. 

*' Question. — When those proposals had been agreed to by General 
dates, but copies not signed by either party, do you remember Gene- 
ral Burgoyne informing the council of intelligence he had received 
from a spy in the night, and submitting to their consideration, whe- 
ther it was consistent with public faith, and if so, expedient, to sus- 
pend the execution of the treaty, and trust to events. 

" Answer — I do remember it. 

" Questio7i. — Does your Lordship recollect what was the result of 
that consideration ? 

" Answer. — The determination of the council, on the question being 
put, was, that the public faith was bona fide plighted. 

" Question — When advice was received that Sir Henry Clinton was 
coming up the North river, did you apprehend the treaty of conven- 
tion had gone so far that it could not be broken ? 

"Answer. — My opinion was, with respect to that question, that all 
military negotiations were fair and justifiable to make delays and to 
gain time ; 1 therefore tliought and declared my sentiments, that Ge- 
neral Burgoyne was at full liberty to break off that treaty in the stage 
it then was, and 1 could not conceive that the public faith was en- 
gaged, until the treaty was signed and exchanged. 

" Qjiesiion.— Whether the opinion of General Burgoyne, of General 
Phillips, of Brigadier Hamilton, and several other officers, did not 



316 MEMOIRS BY 

CHAP, mentioned two hours; and we again set watches, and I 

^'"' retired, promising to wait at our picket for his answer. 

The interview with General Burgoyne had been spun 

out to such length, that General Gates became uneasy, 

and I found a messenger waiting at our picket, to know 

what I had done. I reported in brief, what had passed, 

and what was depending ; and took a station near the 

ruins of General Schuyler's house, where I walked, and 

expected with much anxiety, the result of Genera! Bur- 

goyne's consultation : the two hours had elapsed by a 

quarter, and an aid-de-camp from the General had 

Colonel been with me, to know how matters progressed ; soon 

Slither- after, 1 perceived Lieutenant-colonel Sutherlatid opposite 

comes to to me, and beckoned him to cross the creek; on ap- 

thead- proachina: me he observed, "Well, our business will be 
vanced f , ;5 

post. knocked on the head after all." I inquired why ? He 

Conversa- said, " the officers had got the devil in their heads, and 

twe n^h' could not agree." I replied gaily, " I am sorry for it, 

and wil- as you will now not only lose your fusee,* but your 

kinjon. ^iiole baggage." He expressed much sorrow, but said 

he could not help it. At this moment 1 recollei ted the 

letter Captain Craig had written me the night before, 

and taking it from my pocket, I read it to the Colonel, 

who declared he had not been privy to it ; and added 

with evident anxiety, <♦ Will you give me that letter." I 

answered in the negative, and observed, « I should hold 

coincide with yoar opinion in all the matters comprised in the last 
question. 

"Answer. — As General Burgoyne seems desirous that I should an- 
swer that question, I declare his sentiments were the same with those 
I have now delivered. I hope that the other members of that coun- 
cil, will soon be in a situation to stand forward and to declare the opi- 
nion that they gave, on that and every other question. 

" Question. — When the question relative to the point of public faith 
was decided by the majority of the council, was not the concurrence 
for signing the convention unanimous ? 

" Answer. — It was. 

• "Which he had owned thirty-five years, and had desired me to ex- 
cept from the surrendered arms and save for him, as she was a fa- 
vourite piece. 



GENERAL WILKINSON. 317 

it as a testimony of the good faith of a British comman- chap. 
der." He hastily replied, "Spare me that letter, Sir, ^"'• 
and I pledge you my honour I will return it in fifteen ,jo,, „el 
minutes." I penetrated the motive, and willingly handed Suiher- 
it to him ; he sprang off with it, and directing his course ty^ns to 
to the British camp, ran as far as I could see him : in the camp with 

. , i> J.1 Captain 

mean time, I received a peremptory message trom the cnig's 
General, to break off the treaty, if the convention was ""^^ 
not immediately ratified. I informed him by the messen- 
ger, that I was doing tlie best I could for him, and would 
see him in half an hour. Colonel Sutherland was punc- Returns 
tual to his promise, and returned with Captain Craig, t^',,-,^,.^--^ 

who delivered me tiie convention, sigu'd by General Bur- biingm.? 
1 ,. . . , ' -r" 11 -11 *^^ con- 

goyne, with an additional article spf^cincally to include veuion 

himself, which I eneraged should be admitted by General signed by 

* -^ •' General 

Gates, and immediately sent to General Burgoyne. I Burg^oyne, 
then returned to head o'larters, after eight hours ab- ^^1\'!,^" , 

• -^ additional 

sence, and presented to General Gates the important do- article. 
cument, that made the British army conventional pri- General 
soncrs to the United States, which, together with a re- ^^^^^ ^^' 

'^ seuts to 

turn, founded on authentic documents now in my posses- the arkil- 
sion, of the forces which surrendered, is deemed worthy V'","^' *'',' 

'J licle, and 

of record in this place. signs it. 

Articles of Convention between Lieutenant-general Bur- 
goyne and Major-general Gates. 

I. 

« The troops under Lieutenant-general Burgoyne, to 
march out of their camp with the honours of war, and 
the artillery of the entrenchments, to the verge of the 
river where the old fort stood, where the arms and artil- 
lery are to be left ; the arms to be piled by word of com- 
mand from their own officers. 

IL 

<* A free passage to he granted to the army under 
Lieutenant-general Burgoyne to Great Britain, on con- 
dition of not serving again in North America during the 
present contest j and the port of Boston is assigned for 



318 MEMOIRS BY 

CHAP, the entry of ti-ansports to receive the troops, whenever 
^"^' General Howe shall so order. 

in. 

<« Should any cartel take place, by which the army 
under General Burgoyne, or any part of it, may be ex- 
changed, the foregoing article to be void as far as such 
exchange shall be made. 

IV. 

« The army under Lieutenant-general Burgoyne, to 
march to Massachusetts Bay, by the easiest, most expe- 
ditious, and convenient route; and to be quartered in, 
near, or as convenient as possible to Boston, that the 
march of tl»e troops may not be delayed, when trans- 
ports arrive to receive them. 

V. 

"The troops to be supplied on their march, and du 
ring tlieir being in quarters, with provisions, by General 
Gates's orders, at the same rate of rations as the troops 
of his own army ; and if possible tlie officers' horses and 
cattle are to be supplied with forage at the usual rates. 

VI. 

« All officers to retain their carriages, batt-horses and 
other cattle, and no baggage to be molested or searched ; 
Lieutenant-general Burgoyne giving his honour that there 
are no public stores secreted therein. Major-general Gates 
will of course take the necessary measures for the due 
performance of this article. Should any carriages be 
wanted during the march for the transportation of offi- 
cers' baggage, they are, if possible, to be supplied by the 
country at the usual rates. 

VII. 

« Upon the march, and during the time the army shall 
remain in quarters in Massachusetts Bay, tiie officers 
are not, as far as circumstances will admit; to be sepa 



GENERAL WILKINSON. 319 

rated from their men. The officers are to be quartered chap. 
according to rank, and are not to be hindered from as- ^ "^• 
* senibling tlieir men for roll call, and other necessary pur- 
poses of regularity. 

VIIL 

" All corps whatever, of General Burgoyne's army, 
whether composed of sailors, batteaumen, artificers, dri- 
vers, independent companies, and followers of tl'e army, 
of whatever country, shall be included in the fullest sense 
and utmost extent of the above articles, and comprehend- 
ed in every respect as British subjects. 

IX. 

« All Canadians, and persons belonging to the Cana- 
dian establishment, consisting of sailors, batteaumen, ar- 
tificers, drivers, independent companies, and many other 
followers of the army, who come under no particular de- 
scription, are to be permitted to return there; they are 
to be conducted immediately by the shortest route to the 
first Britisli post on Lake George, are to be supplied 
with provisions in the same manner as the other troops, 
and are to be bound by the same condition of not serving 
during the present contest in North America. 

X. 

" Passports to be immediately granted for three offi- 
cers, not exceeding the rank of captains, who shall be 
appointed by Lieutenant-general Burgoyne, to carry 
despatches to Sir William Howe, Sir Guy Carleton, and 
to Great Britain, by the way of New York ; and Major- 
general Gates engages the public faitli, that these des- 
patches shall not be opened. These officers are to set 
out immediately after receiving their despatches, and are 
To travel the shortest route and in the most expeditious 
manner. 

XL 

« During the stay of the troops in Massachusetts Bay, 



320 



MEMOIRS BY 



CHAP, the officers are to be admitted on parole, and are to be 
^ "^ allowed to wear their side arms. 



Reflec- 
tions oa 
the con- 
vention. 



XIT. 

« Should the army under Lieutenant-general Bur 
goyne find it necessary to send for their clothing and 
other baggage to Canada, they are to be permitted to do 
it in the most convenient manner, and the necessary pass- 
ports granted for that purpose. 

XIII. 

i' Tfiese articles are to be mutually signed and ex« 

changed to-morrow morning at 9 o*ch)ck, and the troops 

imder Lieutenant-general Burgoyne are to march out of 

their entrenchments at tliree o'clock in the afternoon. 

(Signed) "HORATIO GATES, Major-general, 

(Signed) « J. BURGOYNE, Lieutenant-general 

« Saratoga, Oct. I6th, 1777." 

" To prevent any doubts that might arise from Lieu 
tenant-general Burgoyne's name not being mrniioned in 
the above treaty. Major-general Gates hereby declares, 
that he is imderstood to be comprehended in it, as fully 
as if his name had been specifically mentioned. 

" HORATIO GATES." 
See Return [F]. 

Thus terminated a ncgociation which prostrated the 
power of the enemy in the north, disconcerted a danger- 
ous project, and distracted his future operations. It in- 
vigorated the national spirit, retrieved disasters in the 
south, and encouraged the public councils to resist the 
insidious plans of the British cabinet, to disunite the Anie- 
rican people and disarm opposition. This signal event, 
though first in eclat, was secondary in its consequences, 
to tlie glorious achievement at Trenton^ I take the distinc- 
tion, that in the latter case we were contending for life, 
with a handful of troops opposed to an host j and in the 
former we were defending property with an overwhelm 
ing force. Impartial posterity will determine, what were 



GENERAL WILKINSON. 3^1 

iny humble merits in these important transactions; and it CHAP, 
would be a gratification to know, what mighty space of public ^'*"" 
utility was occupied by President Madison in those eventful 
days. 

Early on the morning of the 17th, I visited General 
Burgoyne in his camp, and accompanied him to the 
ground where his army was to lay down their arms, from 
whence we rode to the bank of the Hudson's river, which 
he surveyed with attention, and asked me whether it was 
not fordable. Certainly Sir, but do you observe the people 
on the opposite shore? Yes, replied he, « I have seen them 
too long." 

He then proposed to be introduced to General Gates, Meeting 
and we crossed the Fishkill and proceeded towards his G^eneral* 
head quarters. General Burgoyne in front with his adju- Burgoyne 
tant-general, Kingston, and his aides-de-camp Captain ^ai Gates' 
Lord Petersham* and Lieutenant Wilfordf behind him, 
then followed Major-general Phillips, the Baron Reide- 
sel and the other general officers and their suites accord- 
ing to rank. General Gates advised of Burgoyne's ap- 
proach met him at tlie head of his camp, Burgoyne in a 
rich royal uniform, and Gates in a plain blue frock, when 
they had approached nearly within sword's length they 
reined up and halted, I then named the gentlemen and 
General Burgoyne raising his hat most gracefully said, 
« The fortune of war. General Gates, has made me your 
prisoner," to which the conqueror, returning a courtly 
salute, promptly replied, " I shall always be ready to 
bear testimony that it has not been through any fault of 
your excellency.":}: Major-general Phillips then ad- 

• Now Lieutenant-general the Eai-1 of Harrington, Colonel of the 
1st regiment of Life Guards, and Governor of Windsor Castle. 

f Now Lieutenant-general and Colonel of the 7th regiment of Dra- 
goon Guards. 

^ Very different was the conduct of Charles V. to the Elector of 
Saxony, afier the affair of Muhlberg, in which he was made prisoner ; 
approaching the Emperor, the unfortunate Prince addressed him, 
" The fortune of war has made me your prisoner, most gracious Em- 
peror, and I hope to be treated—" here Charles harshly interrupted 
him, " and am I then at last acknowledged to be Emperor ? Charles 

vol. L S s 



;38S 



CHAP- 
VIII. 



MEMOIRS BY 

vanced, and he and General Gates saluted and shook 
hands with the familiarity of old acquaintances. The 
Baron Reidcsel and the other officers were introduced in 
their turn, and as soon as the ceremony was concluded, I 
left the party and returned to the British camp, to esta- 
blish guards, take au account of the ordnance and give 
orders for the march of the prisoners. 

Of the returns* exhibited in this place, the first will 
shew the whole train of artillery which accompanied the 
British army, excepting four light pieces taken at Ben- 
nington, and will serve to contradict the malicious fabri- 
cations invented on that subject, and framed to prejudice 
General Burgoync's character; and the other is a testi- ,1 
inonial that although conquered, the British army fought 
gallantly, bled profusely, and fell covered with honour. The 
unprecedented disproportion in killed and wounded of their 
officers and privates, must be accounted for on the superior 
marksmanship of the yeomanry of the country, who had 
been accustomed to the use of armsfrom early youth, and not 



of Ghent was the only title, you lately bestowed on me. You shall bqr 
treated as you deserve." And turned from him abruptly with an 
haughty air. 

f RETUMJV of Ordnance and Stores taken from the enemij, Oct. 7th 
and \7th, 1777. 



CANNON. 


2; 

3 


I Taken 7th October, 
1 


near Stillwater. 


Brass 12 pounder, 
Do. 6 do. 


2 


Do. 24 do. 
Do. 12 do. 


2 
? 




Do. 6 do. 

Do. 3 do. 
Royal howitzers, 
Eight inch howitzers, 


12 

4 
5 

2 


yraken October 17th, 


at Saratoga. 


Total of ordnance. 


35 







J\r. £. Implements and stores complete for the pieces ; particulars 
not ascertained for want of time; five thousand stand of arms are 
taken, and a great quantity of musket cartridges and a number of am- 
BJunition wagons, travelling forges, &c. 

EBENEZER STEPHENS, Major, 

Commanding' U. S. Artillery 



GENERAL WILKINSON. 



SS8 



yet sufficiently drilled to have lost the faculties of volition, CHAP. 
And Morgan's corps then and Forsyth's in the late war ^'^^'• 
demonstrate that in mountainous countries and close 
grounds, the citizens of the United States in their natural 
condition, under strict government, and led by brave and 
intelligent officers are more destructive when opposed to 
military machinery, and tactical evolutions, than any 
other species of troops. 

The strong excitements produced by the important Wilkinson 
scenes in which I had been engaged, and the constitu- g^c^^ and 
tional energies supported by the interests which those proceeds 
scenes had inspired now failed me ; I was no longer able ° *"" 
fo keep my seat on horseback, and placed on a bed in a 
wagon by the side of Colonel Philip Van Courtland, of 
the New York troops, who was reduced to a similar state 
of debility ; we were conveyed to Albany, where I had 
nearly expired the ensuing night under the anguish of a 
convulsive cholic. In this enfeebled condition, with a 
surgeon of the hospital. Doctor Hagan, to accompany 
me, I was despatched on the 20th* with the convention 

Regulars killed, luounded, and prisoners in the Campaign 177Z~ 





n" 

9- 


< 
o 

5 

o 


O 

2 


o' 


^ ("Officers, 
■2 J Sergeants, 
C 1 Drummers, 


26 
15 

3 


47 

33 

5 


19 

14 
6 


92 
62 
14 


•^ LRank and File, 


2.07 


549 


449 


1205 


» (^Officers, 
1 J Sergeants, 
~ 1 Drummers, 


10 

12 

1 


16 

28 

8 


29 
59 
18 


55 
99 
27 


«i LRank and File, 


141 


225 


575 


941 


Aggregate, 


415 


911 


1169 


2495 



Burgoyne's State of the expedition from Canada. Appendix No. If, 

• . GENERAL ORDERS. 

" Atbamj, 20ih Oct. 1777. 
*• Major John Armstrong to do the duty of deputy adjutant-gene- 
ral until Colonel Wilkinson returns to camp. The brigade majors 
are to attend at head quarters every morning at 11 o'clock and every 
evening at 7 fbr general orders," 



334) MEMOIRS BY 

CHAP, and the following letter to the President of Congress ; at 
^^"' the same time Major-general Schuyler favoured me with 
the most flattering credentials, to his friends in that ho- 
nourable body. 

. ** it Camp Saratoga, ISth Oct. 1777. 

« Sir, 

« I have the satisfaction to present your excellency 
with the convention of Saratoga, by which his excellency 
Lieutenant-general Burgoyne has surrendered himself 
and his whole army into my hands, and they are now 
upon their march for Boston | this signal and important 
event is the more glorious, as it was effected with so little 
loss to the army of the United States. 

« This letter will be presented to your excellency by 
my adjutant-general. Colonel Wilkinson, to whom I must 
beg leave to refer your excellency for the particulars that 
brought this great business to so happy and fortunate a 
conclusion. 

*< I desire to be permitted to recommend this gallant 
officer, in the warmest manner, to C'ongress; and intreat 
that he may be continued in hi3 present office with the 
brevet of a brigadier-general. 

<* The honourable Congress will believe me when I 
assure them, that from the beginning of this contest ! 
have (not) met with a more promising military genius 
than Colonel Wilkinson, and whose services have been of 
the last importance to this army. 

" I have the honour to be, 

« Your excellency's most obedient 
« And humble servant, 

"HORATIO GATES. 
«* His Excellency John Hancock, esq. 
President of Congress," 

This letter is most particularly worthy of remark, in- 
asmuch as it measures the importance of the triumph, by 
the cheapness with which it was purchased ; but in the 
reign of President Madison, a bloodless victory is no 



GENERAL WILKINSON. 325 

compliment to the victor, whilst a bloody defeat is consi- CHAP, 
dered the consummation of generalship 5 and by a very "' 
natural transition, the odious cowardice at Bladensburg, ^^ ^j^j^ 
has secured the ascriptions of military excellence to mere state, ac- 
animal courage. The first days and nights of my jour- by'^^s^ur'f 
ney were painful in the extreme, but moderate exercise geon, is 
and change of climate gave me strength, yet I was ex- ^^ to Coi>. 
tremely sensible to fatigue. The third day I passed the ^ess with 

n -^ ^ . ^ ,.,,». ii the con- 

rums of Esopus, (Kingston) which had been recently vention. 

burnt by General Vaughan,* and at Hurly I found Go- Wilkinson 

•' o ' -^ proceeds 

vernor Clinton, Colonel Lamb and other oflScers, with on his 
the honourable G. Morris, whose zeal and patriotism in Jo"^"^^- 
those days of trial were conspicuous; for I remember he 
had visited the army at Fort Edward, in the most gloomy 
stage of the campaign, and mingled in the councils Qf 
General Schuyler when his country had deserted him. 

Governor Clinton, with his characteristic activity, per- 
severance and decision, had been, (subsequently to the loss 
of Fort Montgomery, from whence, after combating the ^ 

enemy « ense manu,*' I understand he escaped by leap- 
ing down a precipice,) incessantly engaged in raising a 
force to cover the country on the west of the Hudson's 
river, against the depredations of tlie enemy ; but, hither- 

* " Albany, 19rA October, 1777. 

" Sir, 

" With unexampled cruelty you have reduced the fine village oC 
Kingston to ashes, and most of the wretched inhabitants to ruin ; I 
am informed you also continue to ravage and burn all before you on 
both sides of the river. Is it thus your king's generals think to make 
converts to the royal cause ? It is no less surprising than true that the 
Measures tliey adopt to serve their master, have the quite contrary 
effect. Their cruelty, established the glorious act of independence, 
upon the broad basis of the general resentments of the people. 

" Abler generals and much older officers than you can pretend fo 
be, are now by the fortune of war, in my hands ; their fortune ma\ 
one day be youts, when Sir, it may not be in the power of any thint; 
human, to save you from the just revenge of an injured people. 
" I am, Sir, 

" Your most obed't. humble serv't, 
" HORATIO GATES. 
" The Hon. John Vaxi^han, Major-general y 



326 MEMOIRS BY 

CHAP to his efforts had proved unavailing, though his vigilaflC©, 
^^^^ and exertions were unceasing. His correspondence with 
General Gates, which 1 shall here insert, will unfold 
some incidents not unworthy note, and will bear testimoi 
ny to the energy and discernment of this distinguished 
patriot. 

« JVew Windsorf Oct. 9th, 1777. 
'« Dear General, 

«« Immediately after our late misfortunes at Fort Mont- 
gomery, I wrote the legislatui'e of this state the particu- 
lars, requesting them without delay to forward them td 
you. My hurry at that time and since prevented my an- 
swering your favour of the 4th instant till now, sinc6 
which the enemy have taken possession of Fort Consti- 
tution, and are at this time not far below the chevaux de 
frize. My guards fell in with and took two spies from 
General Clinton going to Burgoyne; one of them con- 
fessed that his orders were to make all possible despatch^ 
to inform General Burgoyne that he had got Fort Mont- 
gomery, the key ofAinericaf and was preparing to weigh 
the chevaux de frize; and that he (Burgoyne) might pro- 
ceed, as all obstacles in the river were removed ; he fur- 
ther says that Clinton is determined to push up the river 
to relieve Burgoyne from his present difficulty. The en- 
closed confession of Taylor will give you some idea of 
their past manoeuvres and future intentions. If I have 
been rightly informed, your army is now so numerous, 
that you can with safety order a part to establish a post 
at or on this side of Albany; in that case, if they move 
up, General Putnam, who is collecting a large body of 
Connecticut militia on the opposite shore, will be able to j 
join them. I shall endeavour to keep between them and 
your army with two continental regiments and some mi- 
litia, and hope by this means to prevent their reaching 
Albany; indeed I am sure it can be done, provided you 
establish a post on this side for us to retire to. I cannot 
at present ascertain the number lost at Fort Montgo- 
mery. My brother General Clinton^ (who received i 



GENERAL WILKINSON. 327 

wound in his thigh) with a number of other officers, to- chap. 
gether with two hundred of Deboise's regiment, made ^'"" 
their escape after the eneimj were in possession of the fort, 
and have come in safe. We have just received intelli- 
gence, that General Washington attacked the enemy last 
Saturday on Chesnut hill, near Philadelphia, defeated 
and drove them through Gcrmantown ; night coming on, 
he withdrew, and renewed the attack early on Sunday 
morning, and had gained the victory. We have yet i*e- 
ceived no authenticated accounts of the action. Colonel 
Lamb, and most of the officers and men who were with 
me at the fort, have also escaped. 

« I am, dear Sir, with great regard, 

« Your most obedient servant, 
« GEO. CLINTON. 
** Major-general Gates." 



The Confession of Daniel Taylor (a Spy) at Mrv Windsor, 
Thursday, Oct. 9th, 1777. 

« I left Fort Montgomery yesterday evening, with a 
charge from Sir Henry Clintfin, to go with all possible 
despatch through the country on the west side of Hud- 
son's river to General Burgoyne, and acquaint him, that 
on Monday the 6th inst. he stormed and carried the fort, 
with the loss of Lieutenant-colonel Grant, Major Camp- 
bell, Major Sela and other field officers, a number of 
other officers whose names he does not recollect, and up- 
wards of three hundred rank and file killed, and to ac- 
quaint General Burgoyne that the obstructions in the 
river are now nearly removed, and that he might move 
forward as fast as he pleased; that General Howe had 
defeated the rebels near Philadelphia, and that the two 
frigates belonging to the rebels in Hudson's river were 
both burnt; a Captain Campbell of Burgoyne's army, 
lately arrived with despatches to General Clinton, and 
set off on his return yesterday morning, with the news 
of the reduction of Fort Montgomery, and that a number 



VIFI. 



a28 MEMOIRS BY 

CHAP, oof people are employed who go constantly from one army 
to the other, and that Lieutenant-general Clinton intend- 
ed to push up the river/* 

« m-w Windsor, Oct. lith, 1777. 
*i Dear General, 

« In my letter of the 9th inst. I informed you of a spy 
we had taken, after which I was given to understand he 
had swallowed the Tetter which he had in charge from 
Clinton to Burgoyne. I immediately ordered him a se- 
vere dose of tartar emetic, and last night brought from 
him a small silver bullet. In the hollow of it was a letter; 
the copy I now inclose, by which you may see that Clin- 
ton is by no means confident of a junction. 

« The success of our arms under your command has 
just arrived, on wljich I most heartily congratulate you, 
and with you lament the misfortunes of Generals Arnold 
and Lincoln. I am daily gathering strength at this post, 
and cannot but hope, that if General Clinton should at- 
tempt Albany, it will end much to our advantage. Ge- 
neral Washington has been very successful to the south- 
ward. 

<« In haste, and with esteem, 
<* I am, dear General, 

« Your obedient humble servant;, 
"GEO. CLINTON. 

" P. S. Be pleased to make my kindest compliments t^ 
Generals Lincoln and Arnold. 

« Major-general Gates.** 

(copy.) 

<* Fort Montgomery, Oct Stii, ±777. 

" Nous y voici, a4id nothing now between us but 

Gates. I sincerely hope this little success of ours 

may facilitate your operations. In answer to your letter 

of the 20th Sept. by C. C, I shall only say I cannot pre- 



GENERAL WILKINSON. 339 

Slime to order or even advise, for reasons obvious* I CH.\p. 
heartiJy wish you success. ^^ ' 

« Faithfully yours, 

« H. CLINTON." 

"Hurley, 2| miles from Kingston^ Oct. 2±stf 1777 c 
« Dear Sir, 

" I have repeatedly done myself the honour to inform 
you of my situation, and think it my duty again to do soj* 
that if any of those consequences should happen which 
may now be easily foreseen, the blame, if any, may not 
lie at my door^ 

"When I undertook, at the request of General Put- 
nam, to put myself at the head of a body of men to pro- 
tect the western siiores of Hudson's river, and to throw 
myself between the enemy and your army should they 
proceed up the river, I represented to him in strong terms 
the situation of this part of the country, thinly inhabited, 
and the interior part, unsettled and separated from all 
assistance, by a chain of mountains ; in consequence of 
which representation he agreed to let me have three thou- 
sand men of the eastern militia, should they come in as 
he expected they would, of which number, however, he 
hath not sent me four hundred. I then clearly saw, that 
it would be impossible for me to protect the country, un- 
less I could be reinforced from the northern army, which 
from your letter I had reason to expect. I wrote also to 
General Dickenson of New Jersey upon the same sub- 
ject, and I am informed, that notwithstanding the ex- 
posed situation of his own state, he has ordered six hun- 
dred men to my brother's assistance at New Windsor. 
Kingston has been destroyed, merely because I have been 
so deceived in my expectations of assistance, tiiat it w as 
impossible to take measures for its security. I am now 
Sir, at the head of little more than one thousand men, to 
cover the most valuable part of the county of Ulster. 

" The enemy have lain still yesterday and the day be- 
fore, witli a strong southerly wind, from whence it is evi- 
dent that a knowledge of Burgoyne's fate hath changed 
vol. I. T t 



830 MEMOIRS BY 

CHAP, their intentions against Albany. If they land in force, \ 



VIII. 



must either retreat or sacrifice my few men, and losef 
seven very valuable pieces of field artillery. If 1 retreat, 
this whole country will be ravaged and destroyed, and 
that at a season of the year when the inhabitants, who '. 
are warmly attached to the American cause, will want 
time to provide cover for their families against the incle- 
mencies of the ensuing winter. While we act merely on 
the defensive, two thousand men on the river will find 
full employment for twelve or fifteen hundred ; but if 
four thousand are left to cover Albany, two thousand 
here, and two thousand on the other side of the river, it 
will be by no means impracticable to recover the passes in 
the highlands; in which case the greater part of the army> 
now along the banks of the river, may be brought to act 
offensively against the enemy, and perhaps render the 
present campaign decisive in our favour. 

" Colonel Malcolm, who is the bearer of this letter, 
will do himself the honour of stating and explaining to 
you my ideas upon this subject, and you will do me a par- 
ticular favour, if in answer to this, you will inform me, 
what I am to expect, and what is expected from me. 
(f I am, dear General, 

<* With particular esteem, 

« Your most ob't serv't. 

"GEO. CLINTON. 
*< To the Hon. Major-general Gates — Mhaiiy,** 

On the 24th I reached Easton where I rested the 25thj 
at this place I fell in with Doctor William Shippen, the 
director-general of military hospitals, whose anatomical 
lectures I had attended in the years 1774-5, and with 
whom I had since become intimate ', in the course of con- 
versation with this gentleman and Mrs. , a most 

respectable lady, still living in Philadelphia, I was asked 
whether 1 had seen Gen. Convvay's letter to Gen. Gates, 
in which he assigned thirteen reasons for tlie loss of the 
battle of Brandy wine ? I had perused this letter, and heard 
Gen. Gates read and comment on it, in tlic presence of 



GENERAL WILKTNSONo 33I 

several officers of the army, but thought nothing more of chap. 
it until I was thus questioned ; nor did it then occur to ^"^• 
me as a matter of importance, I arrived at Reading the knives at 
evening of the 2rth, and was visited by General Mifflin, Reading, 
with whom I had been acquainted at the siege of Boston, i^nttr^vlew" 
he invited me to take tea with him, and I found two east- with Ge- 
ern members of Congress at his house ; I was minutely flip, 
questioned by them, respecting the military operations 
in the noitli, Goncrai "Washington's misfortunes were 
stricturcd severely by them, and General Conway's cri- 
ticisms were again mentioned. General Mifflin appear- 
ed exceedingly despondent, and observed that he consi- 
dered the insurance of buildings at Reading against the 
depredations of the enemy worthy reflection ; this even- 
ing it began to rain, and the next day it fell in torrents; 
Lord Sterling was confined at this village, in cojisequencc 
of a fall from his horse, and being myself detained by the 
weather, for I dared not ride in the rain, I consented at 
his earnest request to take a pot luck dinner with him, 
and was happy to meet my friend Major Monroe* in 
capacity of aid-de-camp to his Lordship ; with a noble 
deportment and dignified manners. Lord Sterling com- 
bined sound education and respectable talents. I speak 
of his foibles with reluctance, for he was an officer of 
conspicuous gallantry ; his addictions were notorious and 
his fondness for a long set not the least remarkable, for 
no man could be nior^ strongly disposed to fight his bat- 
tles over again. The Earl had another aid-de-camp by 
the name of M*Williams, whom 1 had never seen before. 
We dined agreeably and I did not get away from his 
lordship before midnight, the rain continuing to pour 
down without intermission. In the course of the day, his 
lordship fought over the battle of Long Island in detail, 
and favoured me with recitals of all the affairs in which 
be had subsequently performed a part, and I reciprocated 
information of such transactions in the north as could in- 
terest or amuse him. The conversation was too copious 
and diffuse for me to have charged my memory with par- 

* Now Secretary of State. 



^3^ 



MEMOIRS BY 



vers his 
des- 
patches, 



CHAP, ticulars, and from the circumstances of it, it was confi* 
^'"^ dential. 
Wiiknson During the night, the Schuylkill had overflowed its 
arrives at banks, and swept away all the scows from the neighbour- 
and de7i!' i"g ferries ; I therefore found.it impracticable to cross the 
river until the 30th, and arrived at York-town the seat 
of the CongresG tlm npvt day ; but Mr. Hancock had re- 
signed the presidency, and the secretary, Mr. Charles 
Thompson* was by a resoluiiuu of Congrpce officiating as 
president ; I tlierefore had the satisfaction to deliver my 
public despatches to that respectable citizen and exem- 
plary patriot, and by an order of Congress attended that 
honourable body, where I was received with kindness 
and treated with indulgence. After having answered 
sundry questions respecting the relative situation of the 
two armies before, at and after the convention, the bear- 
ing of which in some instances tended to depreciate its 
importance ; I observed, that I had in charge sundry 
papers to be submitted to Congress, which required time 
for tlieir arrangement, and thereupon I was permitted to 
withdraw. 

In the course of this audience, I thought I perceived a 
disposition in two or three gentlemen to derogate from Gen< 
Gates's triumph. I had been questioned as to the prac- 
ticability of making Burgoyne's army prisoners of war, 
„ and had heard it observed, that it would have been better 

capture ot i /-. 

Purgoyne. tor the United States if that army had escaped to Cana- 
da, where it would have been out of the way ; whereas i 
the convention would merely serve to transfer it to Sir j 
William Howe, and bring Burgoyne's whole force im- 
mediately into operation against us on the Atlantic coast. 
As unreasonable as these exceptions were, they merited 
consideration, and I determined to exercise the authority 
General Gates had given me, and meet them by a mes- 
sage to be prepared for Congress, in his name. I con- 
sulted two of his friends, Messrs. Samuel Adams and 
James Lovell, on the subject, to whom I had letters, who 
commended the plan, and I made a draft which they en- 
tirely approved. 



Perceives 
a disposi- 
tion in 
certain 
members 
to depre- 
ciate I he 



GENERAL WILKINSON. 333 

Having prepared and arranged the documents prelimi- chap 
nary to the convention, with returns of the two armies, ^"'• 
and of the ordnance and stores captured, I was again in- j^ j^ 
(reduced to Congress on the afternoon of the 3d, by Mr. intro- 
Thompson, Mr. Henry Laurens having been chosen the congress. 
president, and delivered to that body a message from 
General Gates in the following words. 

Jn Congress, JV*or. 3d!, 1777 — 4 o'clockf P. M. 

" According to order Colonel Wilkinson attended, and 
delivered a message from General Gates in the following 
words. 

'« I have it in charge from Major-general Gates to re- 
present to the honourable the Congress, that Lieutenant- 
general Burgoyne at the time he capitulated was strongly 
intrenched in a formidable post, with twelve day's provi- 
sion ; that tlie reduction of Fort Montgomery, and the 
enemy's consequent progress up the Hudson's river, en- 
dangered our arsenal at Albany ; a reflection wliich left 
General Gates no time to contest the capitulation with 
General Burgoyne, but induced the necessity of imme- 
diately closing with his proposals, hazarding a disadvan- 
tageous attack, or retiring from his position for the se= 
curity of our magazine. This delicate situation abridged 
our conquest, and procured Lieutenant-general Bur- 
goyne the terms he enjoys. Had our attack been car- 
ried against General Burgoyne, the dismemberment of 
our army must necessarily have been such as would have 
incapacitated it from further action. With an army in 
health, vigour and spirits. Major-general Gates now 
waits the commands'of the honourable Congress. 

*< Colonel Wilkinson then laid before Congress sun- 
dry original papers relative to the convention, which 
were read ; viz. 

" 1st. — A message from Lieutenant-general Burgoyne 
to Major-general Gates, with General Gates's answer of 
the 13th of October, 1777. 



334? MEMOIRS BY 

CHAP. *t 2d. — A message from Lieutenant-general Burgoyue 
^^"- tlie 14th of October. 

<* 3(1. — Another message accompanying the former. 

« 4th. — General Gates's proposals to Lieutenant-gene- 
ral Burgoyne, with Gcneral-Burgoyne's answers. 

*< 5th. — A message from Lieutenant-general Burgoyne 
to General Gates. 

t( 6th. — General Burgoyne's proposals, and General 
Gates's answers. 

a 7th. — Message from Lieutenant-general Burgoyne 
to General Gates, Oct. 15th. 

*« 8th. — Another message from General Burgoyne to 
General Gates, Oct. 16th. 

«< 9th. — Message from General Gates to General Bur- 
/ goyne. 

«•' 10th. — Return of General Burgoyne's army which 
surrendered. 

« 11th. — Return of ordnance, &c. taken and surren- 
dered. 

« l£th. — Articles of convention. 

<' 13th. — General Gates's explanation to include Ge- 
neral Burgoyne in the convention." 

I then described minutely the strong ground occupied 
by General Burgoyne, and the true state of our own 
force, which depended chiefly on volunteer militia, and 
fluctuated from day to day j for it is a fact that the state 
of the continental troops varied little from the return of 
the 4th of October, which was the last I recollect to have 
received, and in truth another was not due until the 1st 
of November, though it was in the power of the general 
to order one at his discretion j the impatience of the yeo- 
manry to return home was demonstrated by those who 
wei'e met by Burgoyne's spy on the night of the 15th, 
and numbers on the cast side of the river retired on the 
16th and 17th, before and after it was ascertained that 
the enemy was to surrender, but anterior to the consum- 
mation of the event ; however, no argument can be fairly 



GENERAL WILKINSON. 335 

deduced from these facts, to affect the constancy of the chap. 
militia, that bulwark of the constitution, the freedom and 
the independence of the nation ; for these men, consisting conduct 
of all ranks and a^es, had come forth without contract of the mi- 

1, - , . .Ill litia high- 

er engagement, on the spur of the occasion, provided only ly praise- 

for a week, and had continued in service a fortnight; worthy, 
and I remember well to have seen among them one of the 
oldest and most faithful supporters of the revolution, the 
venerable and inflexible patriot John Langdon : if these 
same men had been drafted or classed for three or four 
months, their services might have been confidently relied 
on, and it is a truth not to be denied, that the disrepute 
and odium contrived to be thrown on the militia, may be 
honestly ascribed to the ignorance, apathy and improvi- 
dence of the general government. It would seem that we Refleg- 
covet blessings which we are unwilling to pay for ; but, ourp^g" 
at the same time, to save the trouble of inquiry and re- sent mode 
flection, with heedless heads and lavish hands, we follow ° 
the example of the old world, and dissipate millions for 
exterior defence, on institutions which, in process of time, 
must infalliby destroy the balance of power ; and by in- 
creasing the patronage and influence of the executive de- 
partment, will enable that branch of the government in- 
sensibly to subvert the principles of the constitution, and 
swallow up the liberties of the people. To avert these 
evils, tlie citizens of the United States should spfirc no 
pains or expense, to organise and equip themselves for 
self-defence; fill your country with arms and munitions 
of war, my countrymen ; deposit them in suitable maga- 
zines, conveniently established throughout the national 
limits, and liave them carefully preserved for service ; 
fortify your ports, harbours, commanding defiles, and 
critical passes, with durable works, judiciously construct- 
ed and competently endowed : and then, with an ocean of 
three thousand miles between you and the European 
states, no power on earth can be tempted to invade your 
borders ; because of the enormous expense, and the im- 
possibility of acquiring any permanent advantage, over an 
5<i'med and a brave people, far remnvrd from every trans- 



336 



MEMOIRS BY 



CHAP. 
VIII. 



atlantic resource. Thus the means of safety and of hap- 
piness are as obvious, as the insidious measures of Presi- 
dent Madison have been corrupt, dangerous and destruc- 
tive. The reader will pardon this digression, which 
springs out of my solicitude to preserve unimpaired, the 
glorious fabric established on the best blood of the Ame- 
rican people. 

Having submitted my report and explanations to the 
national representatives, I requested that the original: 
documents might be restored to me, after they had been 
copied J an order was made to that effect, they were re- 
turned, and have remained in my possession ever since. 

The day after I had thus faithfully acquitted myself to 
my general, I sat down and advised him of my proceed- 
ings in a letter which I shall expose, although written in 
haste, and conveying the effusions of a youthful ardent?- 
and affectionate heart. 



Wilkin- 
son's let- 
ter to 

General 
Gates, 
Nov. 4, 
M77. 



« York-town, Mv, ith, 1777. 
a My dear General and loved Friend, 

" I arrived at this place on the olst ultimo. A confir- 
mation of the convention amply compensated, for the 
anxiety which a want of earlier intelligence had occa- 
sioned the Congress. I was immediately called before 
Congress, and after answering a few general questions^ 
informed them, that I had a message from you, witli a 
number of papers prefatory to the convention, to lay be- 
fore the honourable house, an arrangement of which 
would take up a day or two ; I therefore begged a sus- 
pension of any further examination, until I had reduced 
these matters to proper order, which was granted, and I 
withdrew. 

" I found the chair vacated by the resignation of Mr. 
Hancock, and that seat of honour was conferred on Co- 
lonel Laurens of South Carolina, who, to be short, is a 
gentleman of judgment and liberality. 

«< Through the industry of your friends, whom you had 
indulged with copies, the articles of treaty (with their 
diaholiral comments. T suppose,) reached the grand army 



GENERAL WBLKINSON. 337 

before I did the Congress. The predetermined, readily chap. 
disapproved, and induced the ignorant to condemn them; ^^^^' 
a clamour has ensued, which must, however, be short 
lived. Before I proceed further, permit me, to intreat 
you, never in future to suffer copies to be taken, or even 
indiscriminately to suffer persons to inspect your public 
or private papers ; for believe me, my dear Sir, it gives 
your enemies great advantages over you. In this in- 
stance, copies of the convention, accompanied by the idea 
of General Burgoyne's being entirely in your power be- 
fore he surrendered, with a total suppression of every 
circumstance which tended to explain your critical situa- 
tion, preceded your despatches, and unfavourable impres- 
sions are received; prejudices are inculcated by the ma- 
licious, which might have reached and contaminated 
Congress; and there is such a bias in the minds of men 
when prejudiced, that it affects their actions unknown to 
themselves. Excuse me, had I loved you less, I should 
have been less free. 

'< On the Sd instant (yesterday,) I had the honour to 
read to Congi'ess the inclosed papers, and presented the 
returns, taking care to recapitulate every collateral cir- 
cumstance necessary to explain your real situation, and 
if this well meant procedure meets with your approba- 
tion, I shall be happy. 

«< Beware of Arnold ; he has endeavoured to stab you. 
I met Bob* at this place; he is in health, so is Mi's. 
Gates. As Congress have determined to push military 
operations this winter, I took the liberty of suggesting 
to your lady the propriety of continuing on the farm, till 
she hears further from you.f 

" The dissensions, the jealousies, calumnies, and de- 
tractions which pervade a certain quarter, must be re- 
served for some other opportunity, I am often asked the 

• His son and only child. 

t By this honest intention I incurred the displeasure Of this lady., 
who lived and died my enemy. 

VOLi I. U u 



338 MEMOIRS BY 

criAP, cause of your not writing to General AVashington; so 
^*^^' tliat tills omission has been noticed publicly. 

*« I shall leave this on Sunday, go by Reading to the 
grand amy., continue there a week ^ from thence move 
to Easton, the present residence of my beloved, where I 
wish to hear from you as soon as possible: address any 
letter to me, to the care of Colonel Hooper of that 
town. 

"I am not as yet honoured with any mark of distinc- 
tion from Congress ; indeed, should I receive no testimo- 
ny of their approbation of my conduct, I shall not be 
mortified,* — my hearty contempt of the follies of tliis 
world, will shield me from such pitiful sensations. 
« I am, my dear General, 

«< Your affectionate friend, 

« JA. WILKINSON. 
« Major-general Gates, 

Commanding the *!Vorthern Department.'* 

Wilkinson Qn the 6th of November, Congress honoured me with 
the brevet the brevet of a brigadier-general, and a day or two after 
of briga- J left York -town, to pay my respects to the commander 
ral. in chief, to receive his orders and embrace my numerous 

military friends and acquaintance. I took Reading in my 
route, and passed some days in that place, where I had 
Character several dear and respected friends, and among tliem Ed- 
Bicldk ^"^ ward Biddle, esq.* a man whose public and private virtues 
esqaire, commanded respect and excited admiration from all per- 

* I shall here submit to the reader an anecdote of this gentleman, 
as honourable to him as a man, as it was creditable to him as a mem- 
ber of that learned and honourable profession of which he was so 
great an ornament. Mr. Biddle had been specially retained to defend 
a cause in the state of Delaware, and had received as his retaining fee 
twenty half joes, an extravagant sum in those days. After listening 
some time to the arguments and proofs on the opposite side, he 
was so convinced of the unprincipled conduct of his client, that he 
left the court, and returned the fee, telling him to find another ad- 
vocate, as he could not for any consideration consent to become an 
instrument of injustice. 



GENERAL WILKINSON. 839 

sons : he was speaker of the last assembly of Peniisylva- chap. 
nia, under the proprietory government, and in the dawn Vlii. 
of the revolution devoted himself to the cause of his coun- ^'^^'^'^ 
try, and successfully opposed the overbearing influence 
of Joseph Galloway : ardent, eloquent, and full of zeal, 
by his exertions, during several days and nights of obsti- 
nate, warm and animated discussion, in extreme sultry 
weather, he overheated himself, and brought on an in- 
flammatory rheumatism and a surfeit, which radically 
destroyed his health, and ultimately deprived society of 
one of its greatest ornaments, and his country of a states- 
man, a patriot and a soldier ; for he had served several 
campaigns in the Avar of 1756, and if his health had been 
spared, would no doubt have occupied the second or third 
place in the revolutionary armies. I had another ac- 
quaintance in Reading, a contemporary whose indepen- 
dence of sentiment and manly deportment, had attracted 
my attention and engaged my esteem during my resi- 
dence in Philadelphia ; but exclusive of his personal me- 
rits, a congeniality of feeling and parity of predicament, 
as it regarded a passion which above all others most inte» 
rests the youthful heart, had produced a confidential inti- 
macy, the recollection of which at this distant day awakens 
the sweetest sensibilities of my bosom ; and I know not 
whether I compliment the living or the dead, when I declare 
that I have rarely met with a man of more refined honour, 
a more feeling heart, or more polished manners than Alex- and Alex<. 
ander Graydon, esq.; and from this gentleman, during q^,^^^q„. 
my visit at Reading, I again heard that General Con- 
way had expressed himself freely and publicly of Gene- 
ral Washington's unfitness for command. 
I proceeded from Reading to the camp of the grand WilkinsQH 

Visits tiic* 

army at White Marsh, where I was received and treated g,.and 
with kindness and attention by the commander in chief, army, 
who made various inquiries of me respecting the northern Reception 
campaign, the conduct of individuals and the operations wllSng? 
of the two armies, and most especially and earnestly of ton. 
tlje movement of the troops, on which subject I could 



340 MEMOIRS BY 

CHAP, give him no satisfaction; whilst at this camp I was visit- 
VIII- ed by General Conway, a stranger, with whom I never 
Interview ^P^^^ before or since ; he took me aside and inquired whe- 
with Ge- ther I had seen a letter of his to General Gates, contain- 
NsTay. ^^^' *"S certain expressions relative to General Washington's 
military conduct j he stated the expressions to me and in- 
formed me that General Washington had charged him with 
having made use of expressions derogatory to his profes- 
sional character. I recollected the letter, but I did not think 
the language accorded vi ith that then expressed to me, by 
General Conway, and I answered him to that effect; little 
suspecting that I was to be implicated in the affair. After 
this explanation. General Conway remarked, that he 
surely had a right to give his private opinion of any offi- 
cer's conduct, and informed me that he had justified the 
sentiments imputed to him ; and there our conversation 
ended. 

I shall close this chapter with a continuation of the in- 
teresting narrative of the Baroness of Reidesel, which 
will convey to my readers a faint but correct view, of the 
disgusting scenes and the horrors of war. 

J^arrative oj the Baroness of Reidesel continued, 

Narrative <e As soon as the finieral service was finished and the 
roness of grave of General Fraser was closed, an ord«r was issued 
Reidesel. that the army should retreat. My calash was prepared, 
but I would not consent to go before the troops. Major 
Harnage, altliough suffering from his wounds, crept from 
his bed as he did not wish to remain in the hospital, 
which was left with a flag of truce. When General Rei- 
desel saw me in the midst of danger, he ordered my wo- 
men and childi'en to be brought into the calash, and inti- 
mated to me, to depart without delay. I still prayed to re- 
main, but my husband knowing my weak side, said. 
<« well then your children must go, that at least they may 
be safe from danger." I then agreed to enter the calash 
with then); and we set off at 8 o'clock. 



GENERAL WILKINSON. 341 

"The retreat was ordered to be conducted with the chap. 
greatest silence, many fires were lighted and several ^^^^' 
tents left standing; we travelled continually during the 
night. At 6 o'clock in the morning we halted, which ex- 
cited the surprise of all; General Burgoyne had the can- 
non ranged and counted ; this delay seemed to displease 
every body, for if we could only have made another good 
march, we should have been in safety. My husband, quite 
exhausted with fatigue, came into my calash and slept for 
three hours; during that time Captain Willoe brought 
me a bag full of bank notes, and Captain Geismar bis 
elegant watch, a ring, and a purse full of money, which 
they requested me to take care of, and which I promised to 
do to the utmost of my power. We again marched, but 
had scarcely proceeded an hour before we halted, as the 
enemy was insight; it proved to be only a reconnoitring 
party of 200 men, who might easily have been made pri- 
soners, if General Burgoyne had given jH'oper orders on 
the occasion. 

" The Indians had now lost their courage and were 
departing for their homes ; these people appeared to droop 
much under adversity, and especially when they had no 
prospect of plunder. One of my waiting women was in 
a state of despair which approached to nyidness, she 
cursed and tore her hair, and when I attempted to reason 
with her and to pacify her, she asked me if I was not 
grieved at our situation, and upon my saying, *' I was," 
she tore her cap off her head and let her hair drop over 
her face, saying to me, *' it is very easy for you to be 
composed and talk, you have your husband with you, I 
have none, and what remains to me but tlie prospect of 
perishing or losing all 1 have;" I again bade her to take 
comfort, and assured her I would make good whatever 
she might happen to lose, and I made the same promisf 
to Ellen, my other waiting woman, who thougli filled 
with apprehensions, made no complaints. 

« About evening we arrived at Saratoga; my dress 
was wet through and through with raiu, and in Ihut state 
I had to remain the whole night, having no place to change 



2^ MEMOIRS BY 

CHAP, it; I however got close to a large fire, and at last lay 
^'^^" down on some straw. At this moment General Phillips 
came up to me and I asked him why we had not conti- 
nued our retreat, as my husband had promised to cover 
it and bring the army through ? « Poor dear woman,'* 
said he, « I Avonder how, drenched as you are, you have 
tl)e courage still to persevere and venture further in this 
kind of weather ; I wish," continued he, « you was oup 
commanding general, General Burgoyne is tired and 
means to halt here to-night and give us our supper." 

On the morning of the 7th at 10 o'clock, General Bur- 
goyne ordered the retreat to be continued, and caused the 
handsome houses and mills of General Schuyler to be 
burnt, we marched however but a short distance and 
then halted. The greatest misery at this time prevailed 
in the army, and more than thirty officers came to me, for 
whom tea and coffee was prepared, and with whom 1 1 
shared all my provisions, with which my calash was in j 
general well supplied ; for I had a cook, who was an ex- 1 
cellent caterer, and who often in the night crossed small ; 
rivers and foraged on the inhabitants, bringing in with 
him sheep, small pigs and poultry, for which he very 
often forgot to pay, though he received good pay from me, 
as long as I had any, and was ultimately handsomely re- 
warded. Our provisions now failed us for want of pro- 
per conduct in the commissary's department, and I began 
to despair. About 2 o'clock in the afternoon we again I 
heard a firing of cannon and small arms, instantly all 
was alarm and every thing in motion. My husband told 
me to go to a house not far off, I immediately seated my- 
self in my calash with my childien and drove off, but 
scarcely had we reached it, before I discovered five or six i 
armed men on the other side of the Hudson ; instinctive- * 
]y I threw my children down in the calash and then con- 
cealed myself with them ; at that moment the fellows fired i 
and wounded an already wounded English soldier, who ! 
was behind me; poor fellow I pitied him exceedingly but 
at that moment had no means or power to relieve him. | 
A terrible cannonade was commenced by the enemy ' 



GENERAL WILKINSON. 3*3 

which was directed agakist the house in which I sought chap. 
to obtain shelter for myself and children, under the mis- ^"'^' 
taken idea that all the Generals were in it. Alas, it con- 
tained none but wounded, and women ; we were at last 
obliged to resort to the cellar for refuge, and in one cor- 
ner of this I remained the whole day, my children sleep- 
ing on the earth with their heads in my lap, and in the 
same situation I passed a sleepless night. Eleven cannon 
balls passed through the house, and we could distinctly 
hear them roll away. One poor soldier who was lying 
on a table, for the purpose of having his leg amputat- 
ed, was struck by a shot which carried away his other : 
his comrades had left him, and when we went to his assist- 
ance we found him in a corner of the room, into which 
he had crept more dead than alive, scarcely breathing. My 
reflections on the danger to which my husband was expos- 
ed now agonised me exceedingly, and the thouglits of my 
children and the necessity of struggling for their preser- 
Tation alone sustained me. 

*' The ladies of the army who were with me were, Mrs. 
Harnage, a Mrs. Kennels the widow of a Lieutenant who 
was killed, and the lady of the commissary. Major Har- 
nage, his wife, and Mrs. Kennels, made a little room in a 
corner with curtains to it and wished to do the same for 
me, but I preferred being near the door in case of fire. 
Not far off my woman slept, and opposite to us three 
English officers who tlioiigh wounded were determined 
not to be left behind ; one of tliem vias Captain Green an 
aid-de-camp to Major-general Phillips, a very valuable 
officer and most agreeable man. They each made me a 
most sacred promise not to leave me behind, and in case 
of a sudden reti-eat, that they would each of them take 
one of my children on his horse, and for myself, one of 
my husband's was in constant readiness. 

« Our cook, who I have before mentioned, procured 
us our meals, but we were in want of water, and I was 
often obliged to drink wine and to give it to my children. 
It was the only thing my husband took, which made our 
faithful hunter (Rockel) express one day his apprehen- 



VI II 



3*4 MEMOIRS BY 

CHAP, sions, that *f the General was weary of liis life, or fear- 
ful of being taken, as he drank so much wine." The 
constant danger which my husband was in, kept me in a 
state of wretcliedness, and I asked myself if it was possi- 
ble I should be the only happy one, and have my husband 
spared to me unhurt, exposed as he was to so many pe- 
rils. He never entered his tent, but laid down whole 
nights by tlie watch fires, this alone was enough to have 
killed him, the cold was so intense. 

" The want of water distressed us much, at length we 
found a soldier's wife, who had courage enough to fetch 
ns some from the river, an office nobody else would un- 
dertake, as the Americans shot at every person who ap- 
proached it, but out of respect for her sex they never mo- 
lested her. 

« I now occupied myself through the day in attending 
the wounded ; I made them tea and coffee and often shared 
my dinner with them, for which they offered me a thou- 
sand expressions of gratitude. One day a Canadian 
officer came to our cellar, who had scarcely the power of 
holding himself upright, and we concluded he was dying 
for want of nourishment ; I was happy in offering him myi 
dinner which strengthened him, and procured me hisi 
friendship. I now undertook the care of Major Bloom- 
field,* another aid-de-camp of General Phillips, he had! 
received a musket ball through both cheeks, which in its' 
course, had knocked out several of his teeth, and cut his 
tongue, he could hold nothing in his mouth, the matter 
which ran from his wound almost choaked him, and he 
was not able to take any nourisljment except a little soup 
or something liquid ; we had some Rhenish wine, and in 
the hope that the acidity of it would cleanse his wound, X 
gave him a bottle of it, lie took a little now and then and| 
with sucli effect, that his cure soon followed ; thus I added 
another to my stock of friends, and derived a satisfaction 



* Xow member of Parliament for Plymouth, major-general in the 
army, lieutenant-colonel of the royal artillery, chief equerry and clerk 
martial to the kinsr. 



GENERAL AVILKINSON. 3*5 

which ill the midst of sufferings served to traiiquilise me chap. 
and diminish their acuteness. vni. 

«< One day General Phillips accompanied my husband, ^"^""^'^^^ 
at the risk of their lives, on a visit |o us, who, after having 
witnessed our situation, said to him, " I would not for 
10,000 guineas come again to this place, my heart is al- 
most broken." 

« In this horrid situation we remained six days, a ces- 
sation of hostilities was now spoken of and eventually 
took place ; a convention was afterwards agreed upon, but 
one day a message was sent to my husband, who had 
visited me and was reposing in my bed, to attend a coun- 
cil of war, where it was proposed to break the conven- 
tion, but to my great joy, the majority was for adher- 
ing to it ; on the 16th, however, my husband had 
to repair to his post and I to my cellar ; this day fresh 
beef was served out to the officers, wlio until now had 
only salt provision, which was very bad for their wounds. 
The good woman who brought us water, made us an ex- 
cellent soup of tlie meat, but I had lost ray appetite and 
took nothing but crusts of bread dipped in wine. The 
wounded officers (my unfortunate companions) cut off the 
best bit and presented it to me on a plate, I declined eat- 
ing any thing, but they contended that it was necessary 
for me to take nourishment, and declared they would not 
touch a morsel, until I afforded them the pleasure of see- 
ing me partake ; I could no longer witlistand tlieir press- 
ing invitations, accompanied as they were by assurances 
of the happiness they had in offering me the first good 
thing they had in their power, and I partook of a repast 
rendered palatable by the kindness and good will of my 
fellow-sufferers, forgetting for the moment the misery of 
our apartment and the absence of almost every comfort. 

« On the 17th October the convention was completedo 
General Burgoyne and the other generals waited on th« 
American general (Gates) ; the troops laid down their 
arras, and gave themselves up prisoners of war! and now 
the good woman who had supplied us with water at the 
hazard of licr life, received the reward of her services ; 

VOL. I. X X 



346 MEMOIRS BY 

CHAP, each of us threw a handful of money into her apron, and 
^^^^' she got altogether about twenty guineas. At such a mo- 
ment as tliis, how susceptible is the heart of feelings of 
gratitude ! 

<« My husband sent a message to me to come over to 
him with my children. I seated myself once more in my 
dear calash, and then rode through the American camp. 
As I passed on, I observed (and this was a great conso- 
lation to me,) that no one eyed me with looks of resent- 
ment, but that they all greeted us, and even shewed com- 
passion in their countenances, at the sight of a woman 
witli small children. I was, I confess, afraid to go over 
to the enemy, as it was quite a new situation to me. When 
I drew near the tents, a handsome man approached and 
met me, took imj children from the calash, and hugged and 
kissed them, which affected me almost to tears. " Yoa 
tremble," said he, addressing himself to me, " be not 
afraid." *i No," I answered, « you seem so kind and 
tender to my children, it inspires me with courage." He 
now led me to the tent of General Gates, where I found 
Generals Burgoync and Phillips, who were on a friendly 
footing with the former. Burgoyne said to me, « Never 
mind, your sorrows have now an end." I answered 
him that I should be reprehensible to have any cares, as 
he had none; and I was pleased to see him on such a 
friendly footing with General Gates. All the generals 
remained to dine with General Gates, 

« The same gentleman who received me so kindly, now 
came and said to me, " You will be very much embar- 
rassed to eat with all these gentlemen } Come with yoiir 
children to my tent, where I will prepare for you a frugal 
dinner, and give it with a free will.'" I said, " Yoir 

ARE CERTAINLY A HUSBAND AND A FATHER, y02l haVi 

shewn me so much kindness.^' I now found that he was 
General Schuyler. He treated me with excellent 
smoked tongue, beef steaks, potatoes, and good bread 
and butter! Never could I have wished to eat a better 
dinner : I was content : I saw all around me were so 
likewise; and what was better than all, my husbajnd wa? 



GENERAL WILKINSON. 34^7- 

<bui of danger! When we had dined, he told me his resi- char 
dence was at Albany, and that General Burgoyne in- ^"'• 
tended to honour him as his guest, and invited myself ^■'''"^''"*^ 
and children to do so likewise. I asked my husband, how 
1 should act ; he told me to accept the invitation. Aft it 
was two days' journey there, he advised me to go to a 
place which was about three hours ride distant. Ge- 
neral Schuyler had the politeness to send with me a 
French officer, a very agreeable man, who commanded 
the reconnoitring party of which I have before spoken ; 
and when he had escorted me to the house where I was 
to remain, he turned back again. In the house I found 
a Frencli surgeon, who had under his care a Brunswick 
officer, who was mortally v^^ounded, and died some days 
afterwards. The Frenchman boasted much of the care 
he took of his patient, and perhaps was skilful enough as 
a surgeon, but otherwise was a mere simpleton : he was 
rejoiced when he found out I could speak his language, 
and began to address many empty and impertinent 
speeches to me ; said, among other things, he could not 
believe that I was a general's wife, as he was certain a 
woman of such rank would not follow her husband : he 
wished me to remain with him, as he said it was better 
to be with the conquerors than the conquered. I was 
shocked at his impudence, but dared not shew the con- 
tempt and disdain I felt for him, because it would de- 
prive me of a place of safety ! Towards evening he heg- 1 
ged me to take a part of his chamber : I told him 1 was 
determined to remain in the room with the wounded offi- 
cers; wliereupon he attempted to pay me some stupid 
compliments. M this moment the door openedf and my 
husband with his aid-de-camj) entered. I then said « Here, 
Sir, is my husband ," and at the same time eyed him 
with scorn, whereupon he retired abashed ; nevertheless 
he was so polite as to offer his chamber to us. 

« Some days after this wc airived at Albany, where 
we so often wished ourselves; but we diii not enter it as 
we expected we should — victors ! We were 1 eceivi d by 
the good General Sdmyler, his -wife and davghters, not as 



348 MEMOIRS BY 

CHAP, ciuemies, but kind friends, and they tr«ated us with the 
^'^^' most marked attention and politeness, as they did Gene- 
ral Burgoyne, who had caused General Schuyler*s beau- 
tifully finished house to be burnt; in fact they behaved 
like persons of exalted minds, who determined to bury all 
recollection of their own injuries in the contemplation of 
our misfortunes. General Burgoyne was struck with Ge- 
neral Schuyler's generosity, and said to him, « Fou shew 
me great kindness , although I have done you much injury,*' 
« That was the fate of war," replied the brave man, <^et 
us say no more about it" 



GENERAL WILKINSON. 349 



CHAPTER IX. 



Reflections on the rise and progress of revolutions. — Condi- chap. 
Hon of the American colonists at the commencement of ,^-.^-^ 
their revolution. — The sentiments by xvhich they were 
animated. — The years ±77 b and 1776, the golden cera of 
America.-—^ contrary spirit marked the years 1777 and 
1773. — Its continua7ice and the danger it threatens to the 
United States. — General Wilkinson visits the camp at 
White Marsh. — Battle of Germantown the principal topic 
of conversation,— 'Various opinions on that subject. — Ge^ 
neral Greene the chief object of jealousy. — His character, 
.-'•Gen. Wilkinson sets out for Albany, bearing letters from 
Generals Armstrong, St. Clair and Wayne. — Refleciions on 
those letters and on the battle of Germantown. — Arrives 
at Albany 8th December. — His recej)tion by General Gates. 
'—Colonel Hamilton's mission to Albany. — Correspondence 
explaining the objects of his mission. — Conversation be- 
tween General Gates and Wilkinson, on the subject of a 
letter of General Conway's. — Letters from General Mif- 
flin to General Gates, and of General Gates to General 
Conway, on that subject. — General Gates appointed pre- 
sident of the Board of War, and departs for the seat of 
government. — General Wilkinson's letter to General Gates, 
on the subject of the convention of Saratoga. — Wilkinson 
departs for Fort Schutjlcr, to inspect and muster the troops. 
—Visits the Oneida village. — Improvements of the west- 
ern part of the state of JVew Fork. — Appeal to the citizens 
of that state. — Wilkinson returns to Albany. — Is advised 
by letter of his appointment as secretary to the Board of 
War. — Correspondence with Lord Sterling. — Reflections 
thereon. — Leaves Albany, and arrives at Reading. — Ar- 
rives at Lancaster on the 21st, and is informed of General 
Gates having denounced him for betraying General Con- 



150 MEMOIRS BY 

CHAP. way^s letter to General Washington Perplexity of Wil- 

^^J^ Jiinson*s situation, — Dispanty of age and rank between 
General Gates and Wilkinson considered. — Remarks on 
the correspondence with Lord Sterling. — Correspondence 
with General Gates. — Wilkinson proceeds to Fork-town. 
— Requests Captain Stoddert to hear a message to General 
GateSf which he refuses. — Wilkinson^s resolution un- 
shaken. — Parts with Captain Stoddert and meets Colonel 
^Ballf who he prevails on to carry a message to General 
Gates. — Gates^s reception of that gentleman. — Captain 
Stoddert arrives from General Gates, requesting an in- 
terview. — M the instance of the former, Wilkinson con- 
sents. — Interviexv, and explanation on the part of Ge- 
neral Gates. — Wilkinson meets Gates at the war office, in 
consequence of a previous arrangement. — Wilkinson pro- 
ceeds to Lancaster, on his way to Valley Forge. — Remon- 
strance of the brigadiers and colonels, against Conway*s 
and Wilkinson^s promotion. — Reflections thereon. — Mi- 
nutes of Congress, recording Wilkinson^s resignation.— 
— Wilkinson arrives at Valley Forge. — Requests Colonel 
Moijlan to deliver a peremptory message to Lord Ster^ 
ling. — The latter proposes another mode of proceeding. — 
Witkinson*s confidence in Colonel Moylan, induces him to 
adopt it. — Letters to and from Lord Sterling. — Observa- 
tions thereon. — Extracts from General Washington's let- 
ter to Gen. Gates.— 'General Washington's letter to Lord 
Sterling, March 9.±st, 177 S. — Wilkinson refuses General 
Washington's invitation. — Is again invited, and assigns 
his reasons for refusing. — Receives a message from Ge- 
neral Washington, stating the subject upon which he 
wishes to see him. — Waits on General Washington.— 
The conversation which ensued. — Exposition of General 
Washington's correspondence with General Gates. — Re- 
flections thereon, and Lord Sterling's communications to 
General Washington.^ — Reference to Gordon's History and 
Graydon's Memoirs. — Extract of a letter from General 
Lee to General Gates.'— -Wilkinson resigns his appoint- 
ment of secretary to the Board of War. — Is appointed 



GENERAL WILKINSON. .351 

clothier-general of the armyf and his reasons for accept' 
ing the appointment.-^Course prescribed to him in wri- 
ting these niemoirs. 

The motives which lead to political revolutions may CHAP, 
originate in the pride of family, in personal wrongs or '^' 
private ambition, but most frequently they grow out of ueflgc. 
the abuse of power. The subordinate agents and actors tionsgn 
in revolutionary scenes, but imperfectly comprehend the and pro- 
grounds of controversy, and are guided more by the cur- g''ess of 
rent of opinion than principle and intelligence. Popular tfjns" 
commotions are impressive j but a national convulsion, 
like an irresistible torrent, sweeps every thing along with 
it, and the votaries of the public cause co-operate without 
inquiry J it rouses all the active energies and generous 
emotions of the heart, which it swells with enthusiasm, . 
and leaves nothing to sordid calculations ; and when the 
motives are just, and the direction temperate, a state of 
revolution is the most seducing on earth. 

Such was the condition of the American colonists at Condition 
the commcnrement of their contest with the parent state, Ame^ioan 
when, with a few exceptions, all heads, hands and hearts colonists 
were united for the protection of common interests and ^\>m.^ 
the attainment of specific objects. Strangers to local dis- mence- 
tinctions and personal factions, the American community lhe"revo- 
exhibitcd an unity of sentiment and action, which in- l^^ion, 
fluenced their private transactions, and controlled their 
public deliberations. With " liberty or death" for their 
motto, they were ready to throw their property into a 
common stock; the only competition among them was in 
contributions to the public weal ; and the resolutions of 
Congress were more strictly obeyed and more punctually 
executed, than the most solemn laws of the best regulated 
governments in the world. 

The years 1775, 1776, might properly be styled the 
golden aira of the American revolution; when hardsliips 
and perils blended the fortunes of all, and bound them to-^ 
gether by the strongest ties of sympathy and self defence. 
But alas ! this disinterested union and harmonious accord. 



35a MEMOIRS BY 

CHAP, was soon, too soon, dissolved, by that foolish impulse^ 
^^" which armed brother against brother, and shed the first 
ChaHffe in ^^^^^ ^^ m&.n. Security begot dissension, and prosperity 
1777-8. ambition; the sudden 'accumulation of individual for- 
tunes by licensed sea robbers, excited the sordid pas- 
sions ; a spirit of venal speculation overspread the whole 
country, and personal factions and political intrigues dis- 
tinguished the years 1777 and 1778, infected private con- 
fidence and poisoned public concord, and then the iron 
age of these United States began, which has unfortunate- 
ly flourished with unexampled vigour, and in the short 
space of forty years furnishes abundant cause of appre- 
hension for the safety of the constitution, that palladium 
of liberty, purchased by the best blood of the country. 
I had now reached a period when neither political in- 
. tegrity, personal probity, patriotic zeal, nor innocence of 
life could shield me against envy, jealousy, suspicion and 
perfidy. My youth then furnished objections to my un- 
solicited promotion, and my age has since afforded Pre- 
sident Madison a pretext for turning me out of the ser- 
vice : and thus it appears, that from youth to age I have 
been a subject of persecution ; yet it is my pride and my 
boast that my life has been devoted to my country. 
General At the time I visited the camp at White Marsh the 
v^sits'the" ^^'™y ^^^^ '^^'^" unfortunate in various conflicts, and mili- 
campat tary misfortunes are the infallible sources of discontent. 
Marsh ^^^^ battle of Germantown was then the prevailing topic 
Battle of of Conversation ; a successful onset had inspired the belief 
town, and that the attack might have been conducted to a triumphant 
thevarious termination ; in searching for the causes of discomfiture, 

opinions .. ,. ./., . .. 

on that opinions were diversified, some charging it to the tardy 
subject, movements of the left, others to defective vigour on the 
riglit, but those who had been most warmly engaged, as- 
cribed it the halt of the centre at Chew's house, which 
was imputed to the counsellors of the commander in cliief, 
who were ctmdemned with little reserve, and among them 
I perceived General Greene was the most prominent ob- 
ject of jealousy; a gentleman in whom General Washing- 
ton always found a safe and able adviser, and the country 



GENERAL WILKINSON. 353 

t cautious but most efficient General ; and if true valour chap. 
be estimated by calm self-possession, decision and vigour ^^* 
in the hour of peril, his title to that quality was establish- jjjg ^^^^ 
ed in the battles of Guildford and Eutaw, which furnish racter. 
Iiis proper eulogy ; whilst his constancy, forecast, re- 
source and arrangements, in the most active scenes and 
critical exigencies of the war, proclaim this pupil of 
"Washington to be the first captain of his day. 

I remained with the grand army until tlie 22d Novem- 
ber, when I set out for Albany, the liead quarters of Ge- 
neral Gates, bearing letters from Generals Armstrong,=5^ 
St. Clair and Wayne, which I shall here present to the 
reader, to illustrate the feelings of the army respecting 
the battle of Germantown, and furnish him an idea of the 
state of public affairs at that interesting epoch ; and with 
the same motives, I shall introduce a previous letter froiiy 
General Armstrong, of the 9th October. 

« Camp near the Trapp, 9th Oct. 1777. 
" Bear General, 

« Three days ago I wrote you at greater length than 
I at present can do, but find through hurrying in the 
night, I have sent your letter to some other gentleman. 

« On the fourth instant General Washington attacked 
the enemy, marching his troops by various routes about 
fifteen miles the preceding night. The British troops 
were encamped chiefly at Germantown, the foreigners 
principally betwixt the Falls of Schuylkill and John 
Van Deeiing's mill, we could not take oft' (as was design- 
ed) but beat the enemy's pickets, so that the surprise was 
not total but partial. At the head of Germantown the 
continental troops attacked with vigour, and drove the 
British who frequently rallied and were drove again and 
again about the space of two miles, when some unhappy 
spirit of ivfatiiation seized our troops almost universally, 

• The hero of Kittaning in the wax of 1756 ; father of the late Se- 
cretary of war, and one of the most virtuous men who has lived ia 
any age or country. 

VOL. I. Y y 



351 MEMOIRS BY 

CHAP, whereby they began to retreat and fled in wild disorder 
^^' unknown to the General, tliat is without his orders and 
^^^^ beyond his power to prevent. So that a victory, a glo- 
rious victory, fought for and eight-tenths won, was 
shamefully but mysteriously lost, for no one to this moment 
can or at least will give any good reason for the flight. 
The conjectures are these, the morning was foggy and so 
far unfavourable. It is said ours took the manoeuvres of 
part of our own people, for large reinforcements of the 
enemy, and thereby took fright at themselves or at one 
another. Some unhappy officer is said to have called out 
we are swroimded, we are surrounded. The enemy also 
in their flight, I mean part of them, took into a church, 
and a large body into Mr. Chew's Germantown house, 
where, on our part, an ill-judged delay was made, and the 
troops impeded in their warm pursuit. There a flag was 
sent ill, insulted, and the bearer wounded, where also a 
number of our people fell by the wall pieces and musket- 
ry of the house, which proved too strong for the metal of 
our field pieces. 

« I hope to send you a copy of our order of march and 
attack, and of our loss, the return not being fully made 
when 1 was last at head quarters, which is fourteen miles 
from me, but am to join again to-morrow. My destiny 
was against the foreigners, rather to divert them with the 
militia, than fight their superior body, however we attempt- 
ed both, until the General seeing his men retreat, sent for 
me, with the division. I followed a slow cannonade se- 
veral miles but found him not, fell in the rear of the ene- 
my, still supposing them a vanquished party and that we 
had victory, though the firing was then counter, weg^ve 
them a brush, but their artillery so well directed soon 
obliged us to file off, near two hours after our troops had 
left the field. I lost but tliree, and nine wounded. On 
the other hand, every intelligence from town assures us 
that the continental troops in the morning gave the ene- 
my a severe drubbing. General Agnew killed. Grant and 
Sir Will. Erskine wounded, with some Colonels. The 
hospital and some churches crowded with their wounded. 



GENERAL AVILKINSON. 355 

The triumphant torys again struck to the centre, antl the chap, 
drooping spirits of the whigs again relieved. Tlius God ^' 
supports our otherwise sinking spirits^ wliich were also 
animated by your northern success. Before this I hope 
my son has joined and given you the Brandywine story 
and succeeding movements. This last effort though in 
PART unfortunate f is a great and happij thing , and still 
greater things depend on the next. May heaven indul- 
gent give it success. 

" I am with compliments to your suite, 
<« Dear General, 

" Affectionately yours, 

" JOHN ARMSTRONGS. 

*< Major-general Gates." 

« Camp at White Marshy 13 miles from 
Fhiladelphia, 20th JV*or. 1777. 
*f Dear General, 

"Notwithstanding the worst disposition for writing 
and the marching orders of this day, I must not decline 
this natural opportunity, of testifying not only my own but 
the high pleasure of our army and all friends of liberty, 
amounting with many even to rapture, in consequence of 
the success of your exertions and those of your brave 
army on the 15th ult. ; a victory this, but seldom grant- 
ed to man ! characteristic of the Supreme Jlgentf and evi^ 
dential of his high favour to the American cause. May 
God who gave it deliver you, the feeble instrument, (as 
from corporal enemies he has done) from the sable at- 
tacks to which you must stand exposed on the high pin- 
nacle of fame, from which watchfulness and humility only 
can hand you down in safety, whilst gratitude and giving 
God glory will best establish your feet. 

"On our general and very important 'affairs here, I 
hope the young gentleman who will deliver this may be 
able to say almost the whole. The enemy have thrown 
a curved line of redoubts from Schuylkill to Delaware, 
and chiefly filled the intermediate spaces by abbatiSi 
They are stronger, and were so at landing, than we gc 



S58 MEMOIRS BY 

CHAP, nerally believed. They are now about 9,000 effeetivcs> 
'^' besides the reinforcement just arrived from York. Our 
number in continental troops, until now the reinforce- 
ments come in, were considerably inferior to the enemy. 
I hope a few days will lead us to push them from their 
strong redoubts ; we are promised that pleasure, with the 
additional compliments of being chased over the moun- 
tains as soon as the shipping is brought up. Fort Island, 
after a brave resistance, we liave lately lost. Lord Corn- 
w-allis, with some troops from Philadelphia and Clinton's 
reinforcement, are now on the enterprise of taking Red 
bank. AYe have detached in aid of that garrison. As to 
the spot its now of no consequence to us, the little fleet 
having determined to move up the Delaware. We are 
ill clothed, the winter is on, to hut near the enemy will 
be arduous, is dangerous; to return back for quarters and 
thereby leave the country open, appears to be intolerable. 
These' are the outlines of our situation at present; hoping 
for some favourable opening whereby the campaign may 
be closed with reputation, God only can give it. Our 
troops express their wishes for another trial, and must be 
greatly animated by the arrival of your's. We have 
about 2,500 militia of this state, and about SOO from 
Maryland, about this number will remain for some weeks 
yet, but they are ever fluctuating. I presume, Johnny* 
will wish to see Carlisle this winter, if consistent with 
your situation. 

« I am. Dear General, with great truth, 
*< Most cordially your's, 

•«.TOHN ARMSTRONG. 
tf Major-general Gates.'* 

'< Camp at White Marsh, JVov. Qist, ±777. 
« Dear General, 

« Though my congratulations on your signal success 
come rather late, they are not the less sincere. Sick- 
ness in my family had called me away from the army, and 

* Late Secretary of War. 



GENERAL WILKINSON. Sdf 

I was absent when the news of General Burgoyne's siir- CHAP, 
render arrived, an event glorious to you, and that must *^' 
be attended with the most happy consequences to Ameri- 
ca, and it affords me the greater pleasure, as you was tlie 
happy instrument in bringing it to pass. Tliis, my dear 
General, is not the language of compliment but of the. 
heart, t am not used to make professions, but I ever ' 

shall be interested in your good or bad fortune, as I have 
not forgot nor ever shall forget, the friendship I have re- 
ceived at your hands. 

<« The battle of Germantown happened in my abscnce- 
I can give you little account of it. There was strange 
mismanagement, and it has produced infinite courts mar- 
tial and as we have been inactive ever since, seems to 
have impressed us with a sense of the superiority gf the 
British troops; that gives me much concern: it is certain 
our discipline and our numbers too are inferior to theirs, 
but when your victorious troops arrive they will make 
our scale preponderate ; but what can delay them so ? 
Morgan has been arrived above a fortniglit. 

<< The fort on Mud Island was evacuated on the 16tk 
Instant, at midnight, (one of the enemy's sliips lying with- 
in pistol shot of it at the time) after having sustained a 
siege of near seven weeks. It is a very singular event 
that such a thing, the veriest hicoque that ever was erect- 
ed should have retarded the operations of an army of 
twelve or fourteen thousand men and a great fleet so Iong» 
Colonel Smith* (a son of your friend Mr. Smith of Balti- 
more,) has acquired immortal honour in defence of it. 
The cheveaux de frize are not yet removed, nor will they 
be, so long as we maintain the Jersey shore, but that I, 
fear will not long be the case, as the troops from New 
York are landed at Billingsport, and a large detachment 
fcom Philadelphia under the command of Lord Cornwal- 
lis has joined them ; Greene, however, with his division 
has marched to oppose them, and he has likewise Yar 
num's brigade. 

« My affair is still in the same situation as when I last 

* General Samuel Smith, the defender of the city of Baltimore. - 



358 MEMOIRS BY 

CHAP, wrote yoti. I am firmly persuaded it is the intention of 
Congress to avoid bringing it to a trial as long as possi- 
ble, in hopes that the matter will die away of itself and 
be forgotten ; that ijowever is not my intention. I have 
been pretty constant in my applications for justice to my- 
self, and to my country, and shall continue them until I 
jjrevail or they throw off the mask. It is melancholy 
that a body lately so august, so truly venerable, should 
in so short time be so visibly altered 5 if the degeneracy 
continues, (and when intriguing and cabal takes root in 
puUic assemblieSf it generally continues and increases^) I 
cannot tell what may be the consequences, nor do 1 like 
to imagine them ; but this is certain, never since this 
great contest began, had we more need of upright, uncor- 
rupted, wise and disinterested counsels and counsellors, 
for we are arrived at the crisis or very near it. This 
' train of thought does not arise altogether from what has 

happened to myself, but from a retrospect of the causes 
that has brought us to a situation, in which we can with 
great difficulty get either forward or backward. 

" This moment I have a letter from the President co- 
vering the following very extraordinary resolve, 

** JFhereaSf the committee appointed to inquire into the 
caiises of the loss of Ticonderoga and Fort Independence, 
have not yet been able to collect materials^ and make their 
report. Resolved, that Major-general St. Clair be at 
liberty to attend to his pnvate affairs until he shall have 
notice to attend head quarters, in order to an inquiry into 
his conduct.*' 

« Judge now. Sir, what I ought to think of them, 
for I made no such application as this would indicate, or 
whether the suspicion I threw out above is not but too 
well founded. If they had candour or common honesty, 
they w^ould have owned, that after five months spent in 
searching for an accusation, tliey had been unable to find 
one; one at least that they dared to own; and instead of 
commanding me to retire from the army, which is the 
English of the resolve, with all the ignominy upon my 
liead that they had unjustly endeavoured to fix there, 



GENERAL WILKINSON. 359 

could have acknowledged their error, and done what was chap. 
in their power to remove it ; but many of them are inca- ^^.^L,. 
pable of a generous sentiment or action in private life; 
and a public station, by making men more acqiiainted 
•with the views and frailties of others, confirms and in- 
creases tJieir own ; a trial however they shall give me ; 
be the event what it will, they cannot rob me of that 
heartfelt satisfaction, which is the companion and reward 
of virtuous actions. 

« I shall leave the camp to-morrow, but shall not cease 
to pray to God to avert those calamities to my country, 
that may ever make my feeble assistance necessary. 

« I had a great deal more to say, but this cursed re- 
solve has deranged all my ideas ; adieu my dear General. 
is I ever am, your very affectionate, 
*< Humble servant, 

"ARTHUR ST. CLAIR. 

« P. S. I am extremely happy at Wilkinson's promo- 
tion, and thank you very heartily for procuring it. 

** He has great merit, and what is in my opinion more 
valuable, he has a warm honest heart. I have known 
many an errant knave with considerable abilities, 
« Major-general Gates.''* 

» Camp at White Marsh, 2±st JVov. 1777. 
** My Dear General, 

« I most sincerely congratulate you on the unparallel- 
ed success of our arms under your conduct, which has 
surpassed even our most sanguine hopes, and which must 
eventually save this (otherwise) devoted country. 

"Fortune to us has proved a fickle goddess; although 
at one time she wore a pleasing aspect, but like some 
other females changed for the first new face she saw. I 
can't say we treated her so kindly as slie deserved ; we 
slighted in an idle moment some of her best favours; I 
wish we had not done it more than once ; for she more 
than once presented tliem. 

" Before the battle of the Brandywine we had a most 
delightful opening, we neglected making the proper use 
of it. In the Great Valley the enemy took, and remain- 



360 MEMOIRS BY 

CHAP, ed in, the most injutlicious camp that ever troops sat down 
^^_J^ in. The hills on each side were not more tlian a mile 
asunder ; they in the hollow and the hills the strongest 
ground I ever saw, the Schuylkill in front and unforda- 
ble ; tlie country all open to receive us in case of a mis- 
fortune ; we risked but little, the enemy their all. At 
Germantown fortune again smiled on our arms for full 
three hours j the enemy were broke, dispersed, and flying 
in all quarters, we were in possession of their whole en- 
campment, together with their artillery park, &c. &C. 
A windmill attack was made on a house, into which six 
light companies had thrown themselves to avoid our bayo- 
nets ; this gave the enemy time to rally, our troops were 
deceived by the attack, taking it for something formida- 
ble, they fell back to assist in what they deemed a serious 
affair ; the enemy finding themselves no further pursued, 
and believing it to be a retreat, followed ; confusion en- 
sued, and we ran away from the arms of victory ready 
open to receive us, 

" We have lost Fort Mifflin, alias Mud Island, after 
an investiture of six weeks, without any attempt to raise 
the siege ; the consequence of which, will be the loss of 
all our other works and shipping in the river, and will 
give easy winter quarters to Mr, Howe and his army, 
whilst we shall be reduced to the hard necessity of mak- 
ing a winter's campaign in the open field with naked 
troops, or give up the greatest part of this once happy 
state to be subjugated and laid under contribution. I 
have thus given you a true picture of our present situa- 
tion, over which I wish to draw a veil until our arms pro- 
duce one more lovely, which I don't yet despair of, if our 
worthy General will but follow his own good judgment 
without listening too much to some counsel. 

« I w ish to hear from you whenever you can find time 
from your more important business, 

« Wilkinson will give you a full history of men and 
measures, adieu my Dear General, and believe me, 
«< Your's most sincerely, 

"A:NTH0NY WAYNE. 
*( Hon. General Gates."** 



GENERAL WILKINSON. 361 

From these letters, the variety and perplexity of opi- CHAP, 
nions and the discontents which ensued the battle of Ger- ^^' 
mantown, may be fairly comprehended. Nor should this 
be a matter of surprise, for it is well known to every mi- 
litary man of judgment and experience, that from the 
platoon to the regiment, the officer who in combat per- 
forms his duty faithfully, has too much to do to give at- 
tention beyond his neighbouring regiment or platoon, par- 
ticularly in broken grounds, and under the obscurity of 
night or a dense fog; yet it is notorious that in our ser- 
vice, « the battle once ended," its details are canvassed 
and its merits fought over and over again, with equal lo- 
quacity, pertinacity and skill, as well by the youngest en- 
sign as the oldest brigadier, upon grounds, principles and 
actions, as diversified as the faces of the critics and com- 
mentators ; such was the situation of the army at White 
Marsh in November, 1777 ; and I offer those remarks to 
the candour of the present army, in the hope they may 
tend to restrain the license of the subordinate ranks, and 
check the garrulity of at least two major-generals, with 
whom I should be sorry to compare the distinguished 
chiefs I have just quoted. 

But it will be seen that General Armstrong was de- 
ceived in point of fact, and at a loss for the causes of the 
failure; General St. Clairspeaksof the litigious disposition 
and discontents of the camp ; and General Wayne's Caesa- 
rian spirit could not brook the Fabian system of General 
Washington, which saved his country from heavy calami- 
ties ; ardent, valorous and panting for fame, like Clair- 
fait,* be was ever ready for the combat, and as an exe- 
cutive officer, would have done honour to the first service 
of the world. General Washington well understood his 
worth and duly estimated it, and no officer more highly 
respected the commander in chief than General Wayne; 
His letter is a compliment to his professional enterprise, 
and having led the attack, and participated in the heat 

• General Moreau informed me that Clairfait never refused a bat. 
tie, and when his antagonist desired a combat, he had only to malce a 
demonstration and Clairfait never failed him. 
VOL. I, Z Z 



SQ2 MEMOIRS BY 

CH\p. of the battle of Germantovvn successfully, as he believed, 
^^ against the main body of the enemy, it was very natural 
he should feci sore at the issue of tiie affair, the merits of 
whijch are little understood even at this day ; and the 
glance which my limits permit me to take of it, in this 
place, w ill be confined to a few brief reflections, and the 
recital of several essential facts, on which tlie reader will 
be left to make his comments. General Washington's in- 
ability to resist the progress of an enemy, his superior in 
discipline, expeiiciice, appointments and numerical force, 
did not appal his resolution, or shake the firmness «)f his 
doul ; and the misfortunes of 1776 had taught him how to 
sustain those of 1777 ; he watclied the motions of his adver- 
sary, prepared to strike him, whenever an opportunity 
should present; and the sccuiity to which Sir William 
Howe gave himself up, after he got possession of Phila- 
delphia, indicated by the distraction of his force, and the 
loose disposition of his main body in the neighbourhood 
of Germantown, made an opening which the American 
chief determined to embrace ; whereby, as at Trenton, he 
re-animated the country, raised the spirits of his own 
troops, and diminished the < onfidence of the enemy. 

But with deference to thejudgment of my contemporaries, 
I do not consider the disposition of the attack tiie most JU' 
dicious, parti( uhuly for the night, and with a large pro- 
portion of undisciplined militia; it was too widely extend- 
ed* for strict concert, and too complicated for precise 
co-operation, on which the success of the enterprise es- 
sentially depended; Morcan I believe that the composition, 
equipments, and numerical force under General Wash- 
ington, warranted the expectation of the capture of the 
army under Sir Williani Howe ; yet the principle of the 
attack evinced the wisdom of the projector, and, although 
it could not be so successful as ^t Trenton, it produced 
the most salutary effects to the country. It reminded Sir 

* The front of General Wasliington's army on tliis movement, ex- 
tended from the OUl Yoric to the Ridge road, over a space of at least 
four miles, inti.-rsected with hills and ravines, which rendered tlj© 
communication exceedingly difficult. 



GENERAL WILKINSON. S63 

"William Howe of the scenes of Trenton and Princeton, CHAP, 
tauglit Iiim to respect bis antagonist, and inspired him ^^" 
with fear of an enemy whom he had despised. It forced 
him into Philadelphia, straitened his quarters, and put 
him on the defensive; and no more important consequences 
could have heen produced, by the most sanguinary victo- 
ry, short of an absolute conquest, of which I humbly con- 
ceive, there conld be no prospect, and for the following 
considerations. 

1st. — The main body of the British army encamped at 
Germantown the Sd October, 1777, occupied ground 
nearly at right angles with the street ; tlie front line on 
tlie school-house lane to tlie west, and' the church lane to 
the east, the park in the area south of the markef-hoiise* 
opposite to which, on the left, Gencrid Howe iiad his 
quarters, in the house of David Dcshler ; the second line 
formed a parallel about half a mile in rear, and flanking 
the road near the old six mile stone, before the door of H. 
Cunningham esq. ; a detachment had marclied to co ope- 
rate in the reduction of Fort Mifllin, and Lord Cornwal- 
lis with the grenadiers was quartered in Philadelphia; 
the advanced body of this army, consisting of the 2(J bat- 
talion of British light infantry, with a respectable field 
train, occupied the height immediately in front of Beg- 
gars-town on the left of the road, and more than two 
miles from the main body, with an out-lying picket post- 
ed at the southern foot of Mount Airy, almost nine miles 
from the market-house of the city; the 40th regiment was 
encamped three-quarters of a mile in rear of the light in- 
fantry, in a field* of B. Chew esq. and eastward of his 
country seat. 

2d — If the darkness of the nigiit, had deranged the 
march of the American troops, a very thick fog in the 
morning tended to keep up the distraction ; that merito- 
rious veteran Colonel Allen M*Lane, wiio for activity, 
enterprise, daring resolution, and efticient service, was 
surpassed by no officer of his grade in the levolution, at 

* This fact is derived from Captain Campbell ofllut corps, \v4io wri«^ 
-AvOunded in defence of lh« hnnse ' • 



36* MEMOIRS BY 

CHAP, that time a Captain, led the advanced patrolc of the cen- 
^^1^ tre, and being well acquainted with the ground and the 
position of the enemy, attempted to surprise their picket, 
but fell in with double sentries, whom he killed with the 
loss of one man, and soon after routed the guard ; tlic 
surprise was complete, and Wayne's brigade commenced 
the action with the British light infantry, who made a 
vigorous resistance, but were forced to retire, leaving 
their artillery on the ground, they however preserved 
some order and kept up a scattering fire as they fell 
back. 

3d. — The picket of the 40th regiment was soon after 
attacked and retired on their encampment, when Lieute- 
nant-colonel Musgrave, who commanded that corps, 
leaving his camp standing, threw himself into Mr. 
Chew's house ; in the mean time General Wayne press- 
ed the retreating light infantry, and continued to over- 
throw every thing in bis way ; our men expended their 
ammunition lavishly, which with raw troops in irregular 
actions is inevitable, soon run short, and a messenger was 
sent to the rear for a supply. 

4th. — General Washington with General Sullivan and 
the troops who followed Wayne at this period had reach- 
ed the vicinity of Mr. Chew's house, from the upper win- 
dows of which Musgrave was delivering a random fire 
at the corps passing on the road, who might be heard but 
could not be seen, because of the distance of the house 
from it, and the density of the fog j a consultation was 
held and it was determined to attack this house, by which 
a part of the centre column was halted, but this mea- 
sure could have had no effect on the movements of those 
on the right and left. The doors and the shutters of the 
lower windows of this mansion were shut and fastened, 
the fire of the enemy being delivered from the iron grat- 
ings of the cellars and tlic windows above ; and it was 
closely beset on all sides, with small arms and artillery, 
as is manifest from the multiplicity of traces still visible, 
from musket ball and grape shot on the interior walls 



GENERAL WILKINSON. 36^5 

and ceilings, which appear to have entered through the chap 
doors and windows in every direction; marks of cannon ^^ 
ball are also visible in several places on the exterior wall 
and through tlie roof, though one ball only appeare to 
have penetrated below the roof, and that by a window in 
the passage of the second story. The artillery seems to 
have made no impression on the walls of the house, a few 
slight indentures only being observable, except from one 
stroke in the rear which started the wall. I have been 
informed that a Major White, aid-de-camp to General 
Sullivan, was mortally wounded by a shot from the cellar, 
in attempting to set fire to a window; and it was reported 
that Colonel Laurens, an aid-de-camp of General Wash- 
ington, attempted with a party to force the main door; 
certain it is that door is much perforated, and it is evi- 
dent that twenty or thirty shot were fired through it by 
the defendants. The most daring resolution was exert- 
ed to carry this building, but the perseverance of Mus- 
grave baffled every effort, 

5th. — These attacks being withdrawn, a parley was 
ordered to be beaten, and as Captain Smith of the Vir- 
ginia line was advancing with a flag to demand a surren- 
der, he was killed by a shot from the house. 

During these operations before Mr. Chew's house. Ge- 
neral Wayne continued to pursue the retreating enemy; 
General Armstrong was engaged with the Hessians near 
the Schuylkill; and a part of General Greene's column, 
had reached the church lane, and met the right wing of 
the enemy's front line; Colonel W. Stewart with his re- 
giment, and Colonel George Mathews with the 9th Vir 
ginia regiment, got warmly engaged, though not in con- 
cert, and were soon overpowered ; Stewart made good 
his retreat, but Matthews with his corps were taken pri- 
soners. In the mean time Lord Cornwallis was advan- 
cing rapidly with the grenadiers, and the left wing of the 
British front line had got in motion under Generals Gray, 
and Agnew. At this critical juncture, the front of the 
American troops had nearly reached the market house^, 



306 MEMOIRS BY 

CHAP, when hearing the parley* in rear, and mistaking it fof 
'^- tlie retreat, some one cried out, « They beat the retreat;" 
the exclamation spread like wild fire — a sudden panic en- 
sued — and troops who had met with no check fled in wild 
disorder, in spite of the exertions of their oflScers to rally 
them. The fog still continued extremely heavy ; the left 
column had become entangled and was falling back, and 
jthe right had made no impression. 

6th. — With his corps in this state of distraction, if 
General "Washington had pressed forward with the centre 
column, fatigued and exhausted of ammunition, he would 
have come into contact with the main body of the British 
army, fresh for action; and under such disparity of cir- 
cumstances, it needs not the spirit of divination to say 
what would have been the consequence : for if we allow 
the 2d light infantry and the 4.0th regiment to consist of 
1200 men, and 2000 for the detachment to Province 
island. Sir William Howe could certainly have brought 
10,000 men into action, as he had landed 18,000,f only 
seventy days before, at the head of Elk, and had not suf- 
fered a heavy loss. 

It has been reported, and it is generally believed, that 
General Agnew was killed in the action of Germantown, 
but nothing can be more incorrect : this officer had just 
marched with a brigade from the left wing of the British 
army to support the action, when our troops gave way; 

• When a messenger reached the rear for ammunition, Captain 
Thomas Forrest (now Colonel) was near General Knox, who ordered 
him forward to give information that the ammunition wagons were at 
hand. This happened near Mr. Chew's house, some time after the 
attack, and as Forrest rode oft he heard the proposition for beating 
a parley; and he had nearly got up with the front of the troops wheik 
the beat was made, and the consequences followed, under his immc 
diate observation, which I have stated with his permission. The 
oldest troops in the world are liable to such unaccountable alarms. — 
The battle of F'riedlingen furnishes a most extraordinary instance, 
where the victorious army of Marshal Villars, after beating and pur- 
suing the Imperialists a considerable distance, upon a cry " Que Von 
etoit coupe," were seized with a panic, turned about, and fled in dis- 
order from their flying enemy. 

t £ee Marshall. 



GENERAL WILKINSON. 367 

and advancing at the head of his column, a lurking party CHAP, 
of two or three men, concealed behind the wall of the *^' 
Baptist meeting house, at the foot of the acclivity north 
of the old 6th mile stone, fired on him, and he was mor- 
tally wounded by one of them, supposed to be Philip 
Boyer, who is still living ; and as the fact may, perad- 
venture, interest some relative of the murdered general, 
I will state in this place, that he was carried forward a 
short distance to a low stone house, on the left of the 
street, occupied at that time by Jacob Hall, and owned 
now by Henry Streeper, where the unfortunate man ter- 
minated his life, a victim to military ambition. 

After the examination of these facts and circumstances, 
I cannot repress the belief that the halt at Chew's house, 
whatever may be its merits in a professional view, was 
another manifestation of the Divine interposition in be- 
half of these states; because if General Waslungton had 
met with no obstacle, he would, under the thickness of 
the fog, have closed with the main body of the enemy be- 
fore he Could have been apprised of its proximity, and 
then his centre and a part of his left wing would have 
been committed to a general action with the whole Bri- 
tish army ; the result of which I submit to the conside- 
ration of my readers. 

The f(illowing general orders of Sir William Howe, 
may contribute to assist and satisfy inquiry, and they 
tend to support my deductions as to the effect of General 
Washington's attack of the 4th of October. 

Extract from the General Orders oj the army under the 
command of General Sir William Howe. 

HEAD-CtUARTERS GeRMANTOWN. 

^fter Orders — 2 o^clock, September 29thf 1777. 

«« The 10th and 42d regiments to march this afternoon 
at 4 o'clock to Middle Ferry on the Schuylkill ; the 42d 
to take with them the two 6 pounders from the third 
brigade." 



S6§ MEMOIRS BY 

CHAP. Octcber 4f/t, 1777, 

^^' « Such corps as suspect they have left any wounded on 

the field, are immediately to send wagons with a small 
escort, to bring them to the hospital in Germantown. 

« The wagons tliat go for provisions are to receive the 
wounded here to-morrow morning by seven, to carry 
thera to the general hospital in town.*' 

Morning Orders — October 5th, 

« Eacli corps to send out patroles in their front this 
forenoon, to search for rebel arms, and take them to the 
artillery park, where the men will be paid for them agree- 
ably to the regulation. 

«A11 rebel prisoners and deserters to be immediately 
sent to the town guard in Germantown, in order to their 
being forwarded to Philadelphia. 

<* The commander in chief desires his public thanks 
may be given to the general officers, commanding officers 
of corps, and all the officers and soldiers that were yes- 
terday engaged, for tlieir alertness in getting under arms 
and good services in beating hack and effectually routing 
t!ie enemy, and desires his particular thanks to Lieute- 
nant-colonel Musgravc, for his well judged and gallant 
defence of the house he took possession of with the 40th 
regiment. 

*< Returns of the killed, wounded, and missing of each 
corps in the action of yesterday, to be given in to the 
depjity adjutant-general this evening at gun firing, spe- 
cifying the names and ranks of their killed and wounded 
officers. 

« The first, second, third, and fourth brigades (Bri- 
tish) are each to send a surgeon to Philadelphia imme- 
diately, to attend the sick and wounded of their respec- 
tive corps, under the direction of the general iMJspital." 
^Jter Ordei'S — October 5t/i. 

« The park of artillery, the 5th and 55th regiments of 
second brigade, 15th, 17th and Mth of third, the fourth 
brigade, and two battalions of General Sterne's, will be 
in readiness to change their ground to-morrow. They 
will for that purpose send a quarter- master, and two 



GENERAL WILKINSON. 3&9 

camp-colourmen from each regiment, to attend the quar- chap. 
ter-master general, at the head of the fourth brigade, at ^^' 
7 o'clock in the morning." 

October 7th. 
"The commander in chief is determined to punish 
with the utmost rigour any person who gives a false 
alarm, or any sentry who improperly fires off his piece, 
to the disturbance'of the camp and to the disgrace of the 
character of a soldier." 

I arrived at Albany the 8th December, was received 
by General Gates with great cordiality, and entered on 
the functions of my station the 9th. Colonel Hamilton, 
aid-de-camp to General Washington, had preceded me 
under a mission from the commander in chief, the objects 
of which are explained in the following letters. 

« Camp near White Marsji, 15 miles from 
PJtiladelphiaf Oct. 30th, 1777. 
«•' Sir, 

" By this opportunity I do myself the pleasure to con- Corres- 
gratulate you on the signal success of the army under ^^"faTa^o. 
your command, in compelling General Burgoyne and his ry of the 
whole force to surrender themselves prisoners of war ; an cdcmel 
event that does the highest honour to the American arms, Hamil- 
and which I hope will be attended with the most exten- *°" " ^'*' " 
sive and happy consequences. At the same time, I can- 
not but regret that a matter of such magnitude* and so 
interesting to our general operations, should have reach- 
ed me by report only, or through the chance of letters, 
not bearing that authenticity which the importance of it 
required, and which it would have received, by a line 
under your signature, stating the simple fact. 

" Our affairs having terminated at the northward, I 
have, by the advice of the general officers, sent Colonel 
Hamilton, one of my aids, to lay before you a full state 
of our situation, and that of the enemy in this quarter ; 
he is well informed upon the subject, and will deliver my 
sentiments upon the plan of operations that is now neces- 
voi. I. 3 A 



SyO MEMOIRS BY 

CHAP, sary to be pursued. I tliink it improper to enter intd a 



IX. 



articular derail, not knowinj? how matters are circum- 
stanced on tlie North river, and fearing that by some ac* 
cid'-nt my letter miglit miscarry. From Colonel Hamil- 
ton you will have a clear and comprehensive view of 
things, and I persuade myself you will do every thing 
in your power to facilitate the objects I have in conterar- 
plation. 

« I am, Sir, 

« Your most obedient servant, 
« GO. WASHINGTON. 
<* Major-general Gates.** 

" Mhany, JVov. 5thf 1777. 
« Sir, 

« By inquiry I have learned that General Patterson's 
brigade, which is the one you propose to send, is by far 
the weakest of the three now here, and does not consist 
of more than about six hundred rank and file fit for duty. 
It is true there is a militia regiment with it of about two 
hundred, but the term of service for wliich this regiment 
is engaged is so near expiring, that it would be passed 
by the time the men could arrive at the place of their 
destination, and to send them would be to fatigue tlie men ; 
to no purpose. Under these circumstances, I cannot con- ' 
sider it either as compatible with the good of the service, * 
or my instructions from his excellency General Washing- j 
ton, to consent that that brigade be selected from the three i 
to go to him; but I am under the necessity of requiring, ^ 
by virtue of my orders from him, that one of tiie others 
be substituted instead of this, either General Nixon's or j 
General Glover's, and that you will be pleased to give j 
immediate orders for its embarkation. 

« Knowing that General Washington wished me to 
pay great deference to your judgment, I ventured so far 
to deviate from the instructions he gave me, as to con- 
sent, in compliance with your opinion, that two brigades 
should remain here instead of one; at the same time per- 
jiiiit me to observe, that I am not myself sensible of the 



GENERAL WILKINSON. 371 

expediency of keeping mare than one here, in conjunc- CHAP, 
tion with the detached regiments in the neighbourhood of '^' 
the place; and that my ideas coincided with those of gen- 
tlemen whom I have consulted on the occasion, whose 
judgment I have more reliance upon than my own, and 
who must be supposed to have a thorough knowledge of 
the circumstances, necessary to enter into the question j 
their opinion is, that one brigade with the regiments be- 
before mentioned, would amply answer the purposes of 
this post. When I preferred your opinion to other con- 
siderations, I did not imagine you would pitch upon a 
brigade little more than half as large as the others, and 
finding this to be the case, I indispensably ow^e it to my 
duty, to desire in his excellency's name that another bri- 
gade may go instead of that intended. As it may be con- 
ducive to despatch that General Glover's brigade should 
be the one, if agreeable to you, you will give directions 
accordingly. 

« I have the honour to be, 

« With respect and esteem, 

*f Sir, your most obedient serv't? 
« ALEX. HAMILTON, ^. D. C. 

«P. S. — If you think proper to order Glover's bri- 
gade, and will be pleased to send your orders to me, I 
will have them immediately forwarded. 
<* Major-general Gates,' 



» 



« Mbanyt JVovj 7th, 17'77> 
« Sir, 

« After sending npwards of five thousand men to the 
succour of the soutliern army, I hoped a further draft 
from this department would have become unnecessary ; 
but Colonel Hamilton acquaints me, it was the unani- 
mous opinion of a council of war, that the whole of the 
eastern regiments should march from hence, and that 
troops were only to be stationed at Peeks-kill, and in the 
highlands, for the defence of the country this way. With 
the greatest deference to the opinion of the council of 



573 



MEMOIRS BY 



CHAP. 
IX. 



war, I must inform your excellency, that troops posted 
at Peeks-kill or in the highlands cannot prevent the ene* 
my from destroying this city and arsenal, whenever they 
please to make the attempt; the passage being entirely 
unobstructed, a leading wind carries a fleet up the river, 
before it will be in the power of the force posted in the 
highlands to give any effectual opposition thereto, as Ge- 
neral Putnam very lately experienced. Colonel Hamil- 
ton, after presenting me with your excellency's letter, 
verbally demanded that almost all of the troops now in 
tliis department, should be ordered to proceed directly 
for New Windsor. I told the Colonel, that your exceU 
lency's orders should be obeyed, but, that if my opinion 
was to be taken upon the subject, I was entirely averse to 
more than one brigade being sent from hence, as this city 
and arsenal was not secure with fewer troops than would 
then be left to guard them ; and of course every good 
effect of the ruin of General Burgoyne's army totally 
lost, should the enemy succeed in an attempt to possess 
this town. 

*< Upon mature consideration of all circumstances, I 
have nevertheless ordered General Glover's brigade to 
be added to General Patterson's in reinforcement of your 
army, and they will march, immediately, down the east 
side of Hudson's river to Peeks-kill. Colonel Hamilton, 
to whom I beg leave to refer your excellency, will report 
every thing that I wish to have you acquainted with, as 
well with respect to the present state, as the future ope- 
rations tliis way. 

«* I am, Sir, with due regard, 
« Your excellency's very humble servant, 
" HORATIO GATES. 
<« His Excellency Gen. Washington." 



The evening of my arrival at Albany, after the ordi- 



Conversa- 

tween nary information and inquiries incident to my joUrney, 
General General Gates observed, *< I have had a spy in my camp 
Wilkin." since you left me." I did not comprehend the allusion, 
son. and he explained by informing me, « Colonel Hamilton 



GENERAL WILKINSON. §73 

had been sent up to him by General Washington ; and chap. 
would you believe it, he purloined the copy of a letter out '■^• 
of that closet," pointing to one in the room. I answered 
him, that « I conceived it impossible.'* He insisted on the 
fact, and further explained : — « The family being called 
out by business, he (Colonel Hamilton) was left alone an 
hour in this room, during which time, he took. Conway's 
letter out of that closet, and copied it, and the copy has 
been furnished to Washington." I was shocked at the 
suspicion, continued to express my disbelief of it, and ob- 
served, « that I knew Colonel Troup had great confi- 
dence in Colonel Hamilton, and that I thought it more 
probable, he had innocently communicated tl»e import of 
General Conway's letter to Colonel H." Tije General 
would not admit this palliation, but persisted that Hamil- 
ton had perpetrated the deed, and declared that ♦< he had 
adopted apian, which would compel General Washington 
to give him up, and that the receiver and the thief would 
be alike disgraced." I call the Searcher of all Hearts to 
witness the substantial truth of this statement, which, it 
will be hereafter seen, is supported by the course pur- 
sued by General Gates, and the tenor of his letter to Ge- 
neral Washington, in which he requires the author of 
the information. Conscious as I was, that I had never 
spoken of that letter with evil intentions, or at all, cxcejit 
when it was mentioned to mc; and considering it, as it 
really was, nothing more that the vehicle of the opinions 
of an individual, which he had expressed without reservcj^ 
and which General Gates himself had not tceated confi- 
dentially, because he had read it publicly in my presence, 
as matter of information from the grand army ; I felt no 
personal solicitude about it, nor could I ascribe to it the 
importance which was subsequently given to it; and 
therefore I did not dream of the frjul imputations it was 
destined to draw down upon me, and the strife and 
trouble it would occasion me. 

The following letters may, from their immediate rela- 
tion to these transactions, be properly introduced in this 
place; that from General Mifflin to General Gates, jus 



217^ MEMOIRS BY 

CHAP, tifies the opinion of General Conway, and bears testi- 

IX 

^^/^ mony to his avowal of the sentiments contained in his 
letter to General Gates; and the letter of General Gates 
to General Conway, manifests his high approbation of 
the ideas and observations conveyed in the letter in ques- 
tion, before he knew it had been exposed, and of his per- 
turbation afterwards. 

« Reading, JVovember 28t/t, 1777. 
« My dear General, 

« dn extract from General Conway* s letter to you has 
been prociired, and sent to head quarters. The extract xoas 
a collection of just sentiments ; yet such as should not have 
been intrusted to any of your family. General Washing- 
ton inclosed it to General Conway without remarks. It 
was supportedf and the freedom of the sentiment was not 
apologised for : on the contrary, although some reflections 
were made on some peopkf yet the practice was plead bold- 
ly, and no Satisfaction given. 

" My dear General, take care of your generosity and 
frank disposition; they cannot injure yourself, but may 
injure some of your best friends. 

<« Affectionately yours, 

« T. M. 
'« To Major-general Gates.^ 



»> 



" Albany, December 3d, 1777, 
*< Dear General, 

<« Your excellent letter has given me pain ; for at the same 
time that I am indebted to yon for a just idea of the cause of 
our misfortunes^ your judicious observations make me sen- 
sible of the difficulty there is in remedying the evils which 
retard our success. The perfect establishment of military 
discipline, consistent with the honour and principles which 
ought to bfe cherished amongst a free people, is not only 
the work of genius, but time. 

<* But, dear General, you have sent your resignation; 
and I assure ygu, I fondly hope it will not be accepted-^ 
it ought not. 



GENERAL WILKINSON. 375 

«■< The antipathy which has long subsisted between the chap. 
French and English nations, will continue until they ^^' 
cease to be neighbours. — Such is the unhappy lot of man- 
kind. The separation occasioned by the declaration of 
independence, has removed the cause of that hatred which 
the political connexion of the British colonists has im- 
planted in their breasts against the French, and those 
who were attached to their interest. Now that Machia- 
velism can be no longer tempted to keep up those preju- 
dices in the minds of the unthinking amongst us, the 
French and the people of the United States will become 
friends; and I am amazed that men in the station you 
mention, should have been so impolitic, or have possess- 
ed so little of the philosophic spirit, as to provoke a gen- 
tleman of your acknowledged merits, by illiberal reflec- 
tions; however, I must declare to you, that I firmly be- 
lieve there would be more greatness in continuing to serve 
the states, notwithstanding the provocation you think you 
have received from one of their principal memherSf than 
in resigning the commission you hold. Capricious or dis- 
graced warriors so often leave tlie army, that I do not 
wish to see the name of Conway on the list of officers 
who have withdrawn from the service of our republic. 1 
hope the result of your considerations on tliis subject, 
will I'etain in our service an excellent officer, who has al- 
ready exposed his life in our defence ; and that you will 
believe I am with the purest esteem, 
« Dear General, 
^' Your most humble and most obedient serv't. 
« HORATIO GATES. 

" P. S. This moment I received a letter from our wor- 
thy friend General Mifflin, who informs me, that extracts 
from your letters to me, had been conveyed to General 
Washington, and that it occasioned an eclaircissement, 
in which you acted with all the dignity of a virtuous soU 
dier. I intreat you, dear General, to let me know which 
^J the letters was copied off. It is of the greatest impor- 
tance, that I should detect the person who has been guilty 



376 MEMOIRS BY 

CHAP of that act of infidelity : I cannot trace him out, unless I 

have your assistance. 
'^''^^ « H. G. 

«< General Conway.^* 

A few days after my return to Albany, Major Ackland 
with whose fanaily I was on an intimate footing, spoke 
to me with some solicitude on the subject of the retalia- 
tion threatened by Congress, for the ill treatment of Co- 
lonel Ethan Allen ; he had made arrangements for Lady 
Harriet's acconchement in that place, but became uneasy 
lest the threat should be carried into effect, and he be se- 
lected as the object. He asked my opinion as a friend, 
whether it would be most advisable to remain where he 
was, or to obtain leave to remove on his parole to New 
York. I did not hesitate to recommend the latter, be- 
cause by being near the commander of his army, he might 
be able to accelerate his exchange, and by being out of 
sight, should retaliation take place, he might be over- 
looked. He then inquired how he could effect this pur- 
pose; and I offered him my assistance, on condition he 
would make me a pledge : he promised every thing in 
his power, and I advised him to propose to General 
Gates, that if ho would parole him, he should exert his 
utmost influence to procure Colonel Allen's exchange; 
and tliat, in case he did not succeed, then he would use 
his exertions to procure the exchange of my fellow states- 
man and friend, Major Otho Williams, with whom I had 
served at Cambridge, when he was a subaltern in the rifle 
company of Captain Price, and who was suffering se- 
verely in captivity at the time, having been wounded and 
made prisoner at Fort Washington in 1776. Major Ack- 
land entered into tliis stipulation, and gave me his honour 
for the performance. His application to General Gates 
succeeded, and he removed with his -precious charge to 
New York. I wrote Major Williams by him, and on his 
arrival there, finding the Major was confined on Long 
Island, Major Ackland procured permission for him to 
visit the city, and accompanied it with an invitation to 



GENERAL WlLKmsON. S77 

Kis house, introduced him to Lady Harriet, distinguish- chap. 
ed him by the most generous and friendly attentions, and '^ 
finally procured his exchange, not being able to succeed 
in that of Colonel Allen. Ackland took great interest in 
listening to Major Williams's recital of his sufferings^ 
and those of the American prisoners, which frequently 
brought tears from Lady Harriet. Major Ackland's 
connexions, fortune, and parliamentary standing, being 
a member of the House of Commons, licensed him in the 
free expression of his sentiments; and one day on 'Change, 
when the treatment of the American prisoners became a 
topic of convei'sation, after expressing his abliorrence, he 
observed, " But, gentlemen^ inhwnunity originates at head 
quarterst and you all follow the fashion." On another OC" 
casion, after dining with Lady Harriet, he proposed to 
Major Williams a visit to an assembly ; they entered, 
and the attention of the beUes and beaux could not but be 
attracted by two such elegant figures as Ackland and 
Williams; but the rancour of civil animosity prevailed 
over the obligations of good breeding, and Williams wa3 
shunned like a pestilence. A( kland made his introduce 
lion general, but without effect ; and after sauntering 
across the room several times, « Come, Willians," said 
he, « this society is too illiberal for you and me ; let us 
go home, and sup with Lady Harriet.'* 

But unfortunate was the destiny of this gallant, gene-^ 
rous, high minded gentleman ; and it cannot be listened 
to by an American without deep regret, when it is known 
he gave his life in defence of their honour. I have the 
following detail from an English gentleman in whom I 
place confidence: — Ackland, after his return to England, 
procured a regiment, and at a dinner of military menj 
where the courage of the Americans was made a ques- 
tion, took the negative side with his usual decision; he 
Was opposed. Warmth ensued, and he gave the lie direct 
to a Lieutenant Lloyd, fought him, and was shot through 
the head. Lady Harriet lost her senses, and continued 
deranged two years ; after which, I have been informed, 

voir. I. 3 B 



37S 



MEMOIRS BY 



CHAP. 
IX. 



General 
Gates ap- 
pointed 
president 
of the 
board of 
Congress. 



slie married Mr. Brudenell, who accompatiied her from 
General Burgoyne's camp, when she sought her wound- 
ed husband on the Hudson's river. 

The Congress liad new modelled the board of war, and 
on the 27th of November, appointed General Gates to 
preside* at it; in consequence of wliich, he repaired to 
the seat of the Congress, at York-town in Pennsylvania, 
and entered on the functions of the office. But before he 
left Albany, he gave me instructions to visit, inspect, and 
muster the garrison of Fort Schuyler. Not long after 
General Gates's departure, a report reached me, that 
Congress had prohibited the embarkation of the troops 
included in General Burgoyne's convention. Although 
an humble agent in that transaction, I felt myself deeply 
interested in the fulfilment of the contract, and could but 



* "Tork-to-wn, Mvember^Sth, 1777. 

« Sir, 

*♦ My last trouble was dated 23d instant, and conveyed by favour 
Mr. Pierce. By the present please to be informed, that Congress 
lately entered into resolutions for establishing' a board of war, to con • 
aist of five commissioners, not members of the house -, and 1 have re- 
ceived express orders to notify to you. Sir, you have been elected a 
commissioner, and by the unanimous voice of Congress, appointed 
president of the board; a circumstance strongly expressive of the 
high sense which Congress entertains ©r your abilities, and peculiar 
fitness to discharge the duties of that important office, upon the right 
execution of which the safety and interest of the United States emi- 
nently depend. I am further to acquaint you, it is the determinatioa 
of Congress, not doubting of your concurrence} to continue your rank 
in the army, and not to confine you to the board when your presence 
and command in the field shall be judged more essential ; and it is , 
likewise given me in charge, to intimate that your attendance upoB | 
Congress in order to enter upon business at the board of war, as early 
as you can with convenience, is earnestly desired. 

" Permit me Sir the honour of wishing you a good journey, and of 
repeating that I am, 

«' With very great respect and esteem, 

•* Your most obedient and humble servant, 

" HENRY LAURENS, Freit. of Congrest. 



« The Mon. Major-general Gates.'* 




GENERAL WILKINSON. 35.^ 

consider the motive which governed the Congress <«a 
ground of fear " unworthy the representatives of a free 
people; and I wouLi have fought over the campaign again, 
sooner than suffer the national honour to be tarnished. 
In this state of mind, I addressed the following letter to 
General Gates, whose honour I considered solemnly 
pledged for the fulfilment of the convention, under which 
the British army, ti'usting to the public faith, had sur- 
rendered their arms. 



"Albany, January I5th, 1777. 
« My dear Sir, 

<« It is reported here, that Congress have prohibited 
General Burgoyne's embarkation until the convention is 
ratified by his sovereign. I am equally hurt and alarm- 
ed by this information, for I consider their detention in- 
admissible in the spirit of the treaty. I fear a timo- 
rous circumspection has sullied our reputation, and in- 
jured our cause. The alternative, on General Burgoyne's 
embarkation, must have been his landing in Great Bri- 
tain, or violating the treaty. The consequences in either 
case would have been more important to us, than any 
thing which can noro happen. His arrival in Britain 
would have more effectually stirred up commotions and 
manifested our prowess, than all the exaggerated paper 
representations which have been or can be exhibited ; and 
I believe it will be every where acknowledged, that so 
palpable a breach of the public faith, that basis of na- 
tional tranquillity f as a violation of a convention, would 
have drawn upon the nation the just odium of all Europe, 
and have multiplied our advocates proportionably. The 
most celebrated writers on the laws of nature and of na- 
tions, hold that « in all contests disputed by arms, whe- 
ther seditions, insurrections, or rebellions, the public 
faith and the forms of war are to be held inviolable, else 
how can an accommodation ever take place, without the 



^50 MEMOIRS BY 

CHAP, total extinction of one party."* They further say, that 
^^- when an army is invested, and all communication with 
its sovereign cut off, that very circumstance confers on 
the commander the authority of the state, and whatever 
he conforms to, agreeable to the duties committed to his 
care, is promised in the name and hy the authority of 
Lis sovereign, who is as fully obliged to perform it, as if 
he had promised it in his own person ; and that every 
commander of an army has a power of agreeing to the 
conditions on which the enemy admits his surrender j the 
engagements entered into by him to save his life or his 
liberty, with that of his men, are valid, as made within 
the limits of his powers, and his sovereign cannot annul 
them. These conventions have their limits, which con- 
sist in not prejudicing the rights of the sovereign over 
his subjects : — thus an enemy may require from prison- 
ers, in consideration of their release, that they shall not 
carry arms against him during the war, having a riglit 
to keep them prisoners till then. 1 conceive the ties by 
which the conventionists were bound are dissolved, and 
should the king of Great Britain ratify the convention, 
which is both his interest and duty, I feel they cannot by 
any subsequent act be restrained from bearing arms^ and 
I make no doubt of their acting against us next campaign. 
I set out tiiis day for Kurt Stanwix, and hope on my return 
to hear fj-om you. The artillery and stores have been in 
motion for their destination some tfme. Numbers have 
desei'ted from the garrison since your departure : a want 
of clothing is tlie ostensible cause of this conduct. The 
commander wants stimulants, for I assure you the reins 
of government are so relaxed, as to induce a-^no soi-t of 
discipline. As this department is in a feeble, shattered 
condition, I think it indispensable that the person who 
commands next season, sliould be acquainted with the 
resources and the geography of the country, before the 
campaign opens — hence the necessity of his early apr 

* Vattel, c. xW. § 162, 16:1, 164. 



GENERAL WILKINSON. 381 

pointment. In the confidence of friendship, I have offer- CHAP. 
ed you my sentiments with freedom, which I always and *^' 
ever sliall observe until prohibited. 

** I am your obliged friend and ready serv't, 
« JA. WILKINSON. 
tf Major-general Gates." 

1 set out for Fort Schuyler a few hours after writing Sets out 
this letter, accompanied by my respected friend and con- s°'hu°i'^r 
temporary Doctor Tiih)tson of Rhinebeck. The sleigh- 
ing was excellent, and we made an interesting, though cold 
journey. We visited Johnson Hall, the mansion of its 
celebrated founder Sir William, the Mohawk Castle, the 
humble dwelling of Geneial Herkimer, the Oriska Village visits the 
13 miles from Fort Schuyler, and passed over Herki- ^^^^^^ 
mer's field of battle. We reposed a day or two at the 
fort, and while the rolls of muster and inspection, were 
under preparatif>n, we visited the Oneida Castle, where I 
first witnessed the village and war dances of the Abort- , 
gines. We spent a night with these well bred Indians, 
lodging in the house of the worthy and respectable mis- 
sionary, the Rev. Mr. Kirkland, and taking leave of 
them, the next morning returned to Fort Schuyler; and 
having mustered and inspected the troops, we turned Returns to 
about for Albany. ^^''^"y- 

At that period, and it is only thirty-eight years since, improve- 

the most western settlements of the state of New York, ""^"^ in 

. the west- 

were limited to the German flats, from whence we now ern parts 

behold them pushed forward hundreds of miles to the "f ^^^ 

*^ York. 

great lakes, and the St. Lawrence ; impervious forests 

the abode of wild beasts, being transformed into fields 

and meadows; and the haunts of savages, occupied by 

the neat cottage or splendid edifice, by towns, villages 

and manufactories of almost every species, Happy peo- Appeal to 

^\e ! shew yourselves worthy of these divine benedictions, f*}^ '"'**' 

by inculcating moral precepts and religious duties into 

the heads and hearts of the rising generation ; shew your- , 

selves worthy of the political blessings, derived from the 

toil and the blood of your ancestors j by reforming the 



382 



MEMon:s BY 



CHAP. 
IX. 



conduct of your public agents, and bringing them back 
to a sense of their duty, as servants employed and paid by 
you, to consult the interests of the community, and not to 
promote their own selfish projects ; and resolve to per- 
petuate the republic by correcting the misapplication of 
your money; dissipated on foreign missions; on multiplied 
offices and officers; on increased salaries and in number- 
less devices, artfully contrived to extend the patronage, 
and increase the influence of the executive ; which, if not 
seasonably checked, will swallow up the co-ordinate 
bj'anches of the constitution, and convert the government 
«f the people, to the use of the elect, as has happened in 
all otijer countries. 

On my return to Albany, I found a letter from the 
President of Congress, advising me that I had been ap-^ 
pointed* secretary to the board of war and ordnance by 
that honourable body, which I answered on the 3d of Fe- 
bruary, and the next day I received a most extraordinary 
letter from Lord Sterling, to which I made an immediate 
answer ; the publication of these letters I deem essential 
to the vindication of my character, against the first assas- 
sin*s blow, which was aimed at it. 



Letters 
from and 
to Lord 
Stesrliag. 



« Valley Forge Camp, Jan, 6th, 1778. 
« D^ar Sir, 

« When I had the pleasure of seeing you at Reading it 
was mentioned, that in a letter from General Conway to 
General Gates the following words, viz. Heaven surely 
is determined to save the American cause, or a weak Ge- 
neral and bad councils had long since lost it, or words to 
that effect. It was afterwards, It seems, frequently men- 
tioned in camp, and Conway charged with having w^ote 
them. After you had lately been in camp, he says, that 
he inquired of you whether you had seen the letter he 
wrote to Gctieral Gates, that you said you had, and that 
you bad declared in the presence of several, tliat there 
was no such words or any words to that eflect in the let- 



See Journals of Congress, Jan. 6, 177^. 



GENERAL WILKINSON. 383 

ter. I well know that it is impossible you could ha?e CHAP, 
made any such declaration, but it will give great satisCac- ^^' 
tion to many of you friends to know whether Conway 
made such inquiry, and what was your answer; they 
would also be glad to know, what are the words of the 
letter, and I should be very much obliged to you for a copy 
of that part of it, 

« I am, dear Sir, 

♦« Your most obedient, 

<* And humble servant, 
« STERLING. 
<« Brigadier-general WilkinsonJ* 

** dlbany, Feb. 4th, 1778. 
ti My Lord, 

" Your letter of the 6th January I have just received, 
and seat myself to answer the particulai-s. 

*« I perfectly remember spending a social day with 
your Lordship at Reading (in family), in the course ot 
which the conversation became general, unreserved and 
copious, the tenor of your Lordship's discourse and the 
nature of our situation made it confidential. I cannot 
therefore recapitulate particulars, or charge my memory 
with the circumstance you mention; but, my Lord, I dis-" 
dain low craft, subtlety, or evasion, and will acknow- 
ledge it is possible in the "warmth of social intercourse, 
when the mind is relaxed and the heart is unguarded, 
that observations may have elapsed which have not sine* 
occurred to me. On my late arrival in camp Brigadier- 
general Conway informed me that he had been charged * 
by General Washington, with writing a letter to Major- 
general Gates which reflected on the General and the 
army. The particulars of this charge, which Brigadier- 
general Conway then repeated, I cannot now recollect, I 
had read the letter alluded to, I did not consider the infor 
mation conveyed in his excellency's letter, as expressed 
by Brigadier-general Conway, to be literal, and well re- 
member replying to that effect in dubious terms; I had 
no inducement to stain ray veracity, were I ever so pi'one 



58* 



MEMOIRS BY 



CHAP. 
IX 



Leaves 
Albany 
and pro- 
ceeds to 
Reading 
and Lan- 
caster. 
Ascer- 
tains that 
General 
Gates had 
denounced 
Sim. 



to that infamous vice, as Brigadier-general Conway in- 
formed me he had justified the charge. 

« I can scarce credit my senses, when I read the para- 
graph in which you request an extract from a private 
letter, which had fallen under my observation. / may 
^ave been indiscreet, my Lord, but be assured I am not dis- 
honourable. 

« I am, my Lord, 

<* Your obedient humble servant, 
"JAMES WILKINSON. 
«< To Major-general Lord Sterling*'* 

This communication of Lord Sterling, as well as me- 
mory serves me, was the first intimation 1 had received, of 
my being implicated in the disclosure of Conway's letter to 
General Washington ; it filled me with pain and indigna- 
tion, and my answer to his Lordship's, was written in 
concert with a friend and contemporary, James Cragie 
esq. then apothecary -general to the northern department, 
and since a resident of Cambridge near Boston, and was '' 
carefully deposited in the post office. Although uncon-j 
scious of having spoken to Lord Sterling of Conway 'g| 
letter, I knew it was possible, because I had seen that] 
letter, and had heard it spoken of, in company at Eastony] 
as a matter of notoriety; and therefore I frankly acknow- 
ledged the possibility of a circumstance, which I could] 
neither recollect, nor admit ; it was due to candour, and] 
I paid the debt, little suspecting the extent of Lord Sterl- 
ing's dishonourable conduct at the time. 

I left Albany the 12th or 15th February, and with led] 
horses travelled as far as Reading in a sleigh, where tj 
mounted and reached Lancaster the 21.st. On my arrivalj 
at that place, certain reports, which I had heard indjs-| 
tinctly in Reading, were confirmed by several officers ofJ 
my acquaintance, that General Gates had denounced me>j 
as the betrayer of Conway's letter, and spoke of me in] 
the grossest language. 

I was shocked by this information; I had sacrificed my 
lineal rank at General Gates's request, X had served hiia 



GENERAL WILKINSON. 385 

Willi zeal and fidelity, of which he possessed the strorii^- CHAP. 
*st evidence, and was ready to have laid down my life ^^ 
fop him ; yet he had condemned me unheard for an act of ""^"^^"^^^ 
whi( h I was perfectly innocent, and against which every 
feeling of my soul revolted with horror. The distance 
between us was immense; he, an old major-general, who 
had borne a commission in Braddock's defeat, tiie con- 
queror of a whole Britisli army, composed of chosen 
troops, and commamled by a distinguished general, had 
been recently selected for the head of the war department, 
by the unanimous vote of Congress ; and was supported 
by a powerful faction in that body, even against the com- 
mander in chief; I, a boy of twenty, without experience, 
without patronage, without political friends of congres- 
sional influence, whose character remained to be esta- 
blished; the odds was indeed great; yet, altliough my feel- 
ings and affections were outraged, my resolution was not 
appalled, I remembered the injunctions of a dying father, 
I worshipped honour as the jewel of my soul, and did not 
pause for the course to be pursued; but I owed it to dis- 
parity of years and rank, to former connexion, and the 
affections of my own breast, to drain the cup of concilia- 
tion, and seek an explanation, which I believed the expo- 
sition of my correspondence with Lord Sterling would Corres- 
ppodure, as it ought to have done; because it acquitted wlth^ord 
me of sinister intention, and stamped the report of his Sterling 
Lordship to General Washington, with palpable false- 
hood. I halted on the 22d, and transmitted to General 
Gates the following letter by my servant, to which I re- 
ceived the cruel and insulting answer which is annexed. 



*( Lancaster, Feb. 22(Z, 1778. 
« Sir, 

" When you reflect on the length and zeal of my attach- Note to 
went to your interest, when you candidly weigh my stea- Gates and 
dy determined exertions for your emolument, and coolly answer. 
consider the character I have ever sustained, you must be 
VOL. I. 3 C 



alluded to. 



386 MEMOIRS BY 

CHAP, sorry for the abuse you have offered my reputatioa,' 

TV 

What motive, Sir, could induce me, to injure you or your 
correspondent. He, a stranger of whom I entertained fa- 
vourable sentiments — you, my boasted patron, friend and 
benefactor, whose cause I have uniformly asserted and 
firmly maintained; but. Sir, in spite of every considera- 
tion, you have wounded my honour, and must make ac- 
knowledgments or satisfaction .'or the injury. 

«< In consideration of our past connexion, I descend to 
that explanation with you, which I should have denied 
any other man. The inclosed letters unmask the villain 
and evince my innocence. My Lord shall bleed for his 
conduct, but it Is proper I first see you. 

" I am, with respect, 

« Your most humble servant, 
'.JAMES WILKINSON. 

«< Major-general Gates." 



" Sir, 



** Fork-town, 23d Feb. 1778. 



« The following extract of a letter from General Wash- 
ington to me will she\t how your honour has been called 
in question, which is all the explanation necessary upon 
that matter, any other satisfaction you may command. 

" ( I am to inform you then that Colonel Wilkinson in 
his way to Congress, in the month of October last, fell in 
with Lord Sterling at Reading, and not in confidence 
that I ever understood, informed his aid-de-camp, Major 
M<WiUiams that General Conway had written thus to 
you, « Heaven has been determined to save your country, 
or a weak General and bad counsellors would have ruin- 
ed it." L«)rd Sterling from motives of friendship trans- 
mitted the account with this remark, "the inclosed was 
communicated by Colonel Wilkinson to Major M< Wil- 
liams," such duplicity of conduct, I shall always think it 
my duty to detect.' 



GENERAL WILKINSON. 387 

"After reading the wliolc of the above extract, I am chap. 
astonished if you really gave Major M<Williams such in- '^• 
formation how you could intimate to me, that it was pos- 
sibie Colonel Troup had conversed with Colonel Hamil- 
ton upon the subject of General Conway's letter. 
« I am. Sir, 

" Your humble servant, 

"HORATIO GATES. 

« Bris:a(iier-°;eneral Wilkinson.** 



I immediately pt-oceeded to York-town, where I pur- Wilklnsan 
posely arrived in the twilight, to escape observation ; (fa^ptatn* 
there 1 found jny early companion and friend Captain Stoddert 
Stoddert,* recounted my wrongs to him, and requested messa^to 
him to bear a message to General Gates, wiiose manly General 
proffer of any satisfaction I might require, removed the which he 
difficulties which might otherwise have attended the ap- fetuses, 
plication ; he peremptorily refused me, remonstrated 
against my intention, and assured me I was running 
headlong to destruction ; but ruin had no terrors for an 
ardent young man, who prized his honour a thousand 
fold more than his life, and who was willing to hazard 
his eternal happiness in its defence. Pardon me high 
Heaven ! in pity to the frailties of my nature. Pardon 
me divine Author of my being! for yielding to the tyran- 
ny of fashion, the despotic piesci'iptions of honour, when 
I sought, by illicit means, to vindicate the dignity of the 
creature, whom thou hast formed after thine own like- 
ness J for the first time in our lives we parted in displea- 
sure, and I accidentally met with Lieutenant-colonel Bur- Prevails 
gess Ball of the Virginia line, whose spirit was as inde- Ban tJ^ 
pendent as his fortune, and he willingly became my bear a 
friend ; by him I addressed the following note to General ^oG^n^vaX 
Gates, which 1 find without date, though it was delivered Gates. 
the same evening, (tiie 23d). 

• Since Secretary of the Navy. 




^S88 



MEMOIRS BY 



CHAP. 
IX. 



« Sir, 

« I liave discharged my duty to you and to my con- 
science ; meet me tf)-morro\v morning behind the English 
church, and I will there stipulate the satisfaction whicli 
you have promised to grant. 
<' 1 am, 

" Your most humble servant, 
"JAMES WILKINSON. 
<« General Gates." 



Gates's re- 
ception of 
that gen- 
tleman. 



Captain 
Stoddert 
arrives 
from Ge- 
neral 
Gates, re- 
questiBg 
an inter- 
view. 



General 
Gates's 
explana- 
tion. 



The general expression of this billet, was calculated to 
prevent unfair advantages, for, although General Gates 
had promised me satisfaction, I determined to avoid un- 
necessary exposition ; and therefoi'c Colonel Ball was in- 
structed to adjust time, and circumstances; the General 
received him with complaisance, and made no (iifikiilty 
about arrangements, we were to meet at 8 o'clock with 
pistols and without distance. We arose early the next 
morning, had j)ut our arms in order, and was just about 
to repair to the ground, when Captain Stoddert called 
on me, and informed me General Gates desired to speak 
with me. I expressed my astonishment, and observed it 
was "impossible !'* He replied, witli much agitation, <• for 
God's sake be not always a fool, come along and see him." 
Struck with tiie manner of my friend, 1 inquired where 
the General was? He answered, " in the street near the 
door." The surjirise robbed me of circumspection, I re- 
quested Colonel Ball to halt, and followed Captain Stod- 
dert; I found General Gates unarmed and ah»ne, and was 
received with tenderness, but manifest embarrassment; 
lie asked me to walk, turned into a back street and we 
proceeded in silence till we passed tlie buildings, when he 
burst into tears, took me by the hand, and asked me, 
« how I could think he wished to injure mc?" I was too 
deeply affected to speak, and he relieved my embarrass- 
ment by continuing, "/injureyou,it is impossible, 1 should 
as soon think of injuring my own child." This language 



GENERAL WILKINSON. 389 

not only disarmed me but awakened all my confidence, chap. 
and all my tenderness; I was silent, and he added, <» be- ^^ 
sides there was no cause for injurini^ you, as Conway ac- 
knowledged his letter, and has since said much harder 
things to Washington's fac e." Such language left me no- 
thing to require, it was satisfactory beyond expectation, 
and rendered me more than conti^nt, I was flattered and 
pleased, and if a third person, had doubted the sincerity 
of the explanation, I would have insulted him; a long it is set- 
conversation ensued, in which Lord Sterling's romluct wiikufson 
was canvassed, and ray purpose respecting him made should at- 
known, and it was settled I should attend at the war ^.u- office 
office, in my capacity of secretary a few davs, and then ^"^^ '>^^e 
have leave to visit the camp at Valley Forge, where Lord absence. 
Sterling was quartered. 

I attended at the war office, and I think found there, Coolness 
the honourable Judge Peters and Colonel T. Pirkering, Gates^^'^^ 
but my reception from the President, General Gates, did 
iiot correspond with his recent professions, he was civil, 
but barely so, and I was at a loss to account for his cold- 
ness, yet had no suspicion of his insincerity. After the Wilkinson 
lapse of a few days, I set out for the Valley Forge, and [0" y^^nL 
■ at Lancaster fell in with Doctor Craik, the associate (»f Forge. 
Colonel Washington in the war of 1756, and now the 
most confidential friend of the commander in chief. I 
had been intimate with him several years, and we com- 
municated freely on army affairs ; I learned from him, Remon- 
that the brigadiers of the army had remonstrated to Con- the bn^a- 
gress, against the promotion of General Conway, and f^'^''^ ^nd 
that forty-seven colonels had done the same thing with acrainst 
i*espect to myself, among whom I discovered a number Conway's 
who had, on my visit to the camp at White Marsh in kinson's 
November congratulated me on my promotion. Conw^ay's P'^mo- 
appointment to the inspectorship of the army, with the 
rank of major-general, after he had insulted the comman- 
der in chief, was a splenetic measure of a majority of 
Congress, as factious as it was ill judged ; and I was Reflec- 
comprehended ostensibly on the ground of principle, but [hereon. 



390 MEMOIRS BY 

CHAP, in fact, because I had been promoted on General Gates's 
recommendation, and was considered his partisan;* such 
are the baneful eflfects of party intrigues, which embrace 
suspicions for facts, and, without discrimination, involve 
in its horrible vortex, the good and the bad, the innocent 
and the guilty. On receiving this information, 1 did not 
hesitate a moment, but tendered my resignation to the 
President of Congress, on the same principle, that I had 
a year before resigned my lieutenant-colonelcy to Gene- 
ral Washington; and as a testimony of their sense of my 
patriotism, the Congress entered my letter on the jour- 
nals. 

In Congress. — Fnday, March 6th, 1778. 

Minutes of a The following letter of the 3d, from James Wilkin- 

Consrress , 

recording SO"? was read. 

Wilkin- 
son's re- a gjp^ 



signation. 



" I am informed the mark of distinction conferred on* 
me has occasioned a dissatisfaction in the army, and to 
obviate any embarrassment which may result from this 
disposition, by the consequent resignation of officers of 
merit, I beg leave to relinquish my brevet of brigadier^J 
wishing to hold no commission unless I can wear it tc 
the honour and advantage of my country, and this con«| 
duct however repugnant to fashionable ambition, I fin( 

* Extract of a letter from Col. Walter Stewart to JMajor-general Gatesl 
dated. Camp, Feb. 4th, 1778. 

" General Wayne yesterday informed me, of some very imprope 
steps my old friend Wilkinson had made use of, respecting a letter ti^ 
you by Gen. Conway, which has really given me very great uneasinesa, 
I ever was sensible of Wilky's volatility and open heartedness, and| 
fear he might, in an unguardedmoment, mention something of the aP3 
fair to a person he looked upon to be his friend ; but depend upon it, 
my dear Sir, his heart is truly good and so far from injuring you, (if 
in his power) or betraying any confidence you might place in him, he 
looks upon you as his patron, and is truly sensible of the many and 
great obligations he is under to, you ; but as I hope to see you in a 
short lime, I shall say nothing further on this subject at present." 



GENERAL WILKINSON. 391 

^1 consistent with those principles on which I early drew my chap. 
sword in the present contest. ^^ 

" I have the honour to be. Sir, 

« Your ohedient humble servant, 

"JAMES WILKINSON. 

« The Hon, Henry Laurens esq. 

President of Congress" 

I met in Lancaster the honoured object of my tender- Wilkinson 
est attachment, in whose society a fortnight flitted away coUm^i 
like a vision of the morn, and I did not reach the Valley Moylanto 
Forffe before the 16th or 17th of the month. I took quar- ^^^^'''^^' * 

«3 1 message 

ters with my friends Colonel Moylan, Colonel C. Biddle, to Lord 
Doctor Shippen, and other officers, at Moore Hall, and ^^^^^^"ff- 
requested the former to deliver a peremptory message to 
Lord Sterling, on the ground of his having misrepresent- 
ed my conduct to the prejudice of my honour. This pro- Colonel 
position was disapproved as being too precipitate, be- ^^^y^^"^ 
cause a suitable acknowledgment from his Lordship, another 
would be a more satisfactory reparation of the wrong, '"P^^/ • 
than taking his life or losing my own ; and because, in adopted. 
case his Lordship refused to conform to my demand, then 
I should be justified in appealing to the last resort. There 
was not in the whole range of my friends and acquain- 
tances, and 1 might add in the universe, a man of more 
sublimated sentiment, or who combined with sound dis- • 

cretion a more punctilious sense of honour, than Colonel 
Moylan : I therefore could not resist the force of his ob- 
servations, and consented to send his Lordship the fol- 
lowing note, to which he immediately replied. 

« Moore Hall, March 18th, 1778. 
*« My Lord, 

" The propriety or impropriety of your communicating Correa- 
to his excellency any circumstance which passed at your betweea* 
Lordship's board at Reading, I leave to be determined by Wilkinson 
your own feelings, and the judgment of the public ,♦ but s"ernn^!^ 
as the affair has eventually induced reflections on my in- 



393 MEMOIRS BY 

CHAP, te.^rlty, the sacred duty I owe ray honour obliges me to 



IX. 



require from your Lordship's hand, that the ronversa- 
tion which you have published, passed in a private com- 
paiiy, during a convivial hour. Colonel Moylan who de- 
livers this is my friend, and will receive your reply. 
« 1 have the honour to be, 
. << Your Lordship's obedient servant, 

«JA. WILKINSON. 
*< The Hon. Major-general Lord Sterling — Camp." 



a March 18th, ±778. 
•' Dear Sir, 

" As to the propriety of my communicating to his ex-'^ 
cellenry General Washington a circumstance whirh hap- 
pened in conversation at Reading, I have not the least 
doubt of; nor can I conceive that your having mentioned 
that very extraordinary paragraph will ever injure your* 
honour. ' 

« However that may be, I shall ever be ready to avep* 
the truth, and equally ready to give you the satisfaction 
of having it under my hand, that the words which I did 
communicate to his excellency " passed in a private com- 
pamj, during a convivial honrt** but under no injunction 
of secrecy. As to my having published this conversa- 
tion, 1 do not know that I ever mentioned it since till 
lately, when a certain gentleman asserted in company, 
that you had denied that you had ever had any such con- 
versation. This put me under the necessity of asserting 
the contrary ; and of this I immediately wrote you, being 
sure you never would deny it ; by your silence on that 
head since, I must conclude you never received my letter. 
« I am, dear Sir, 

« Your obedient servant, 
« STERLING. 
'•' James Wilkinson, Esq.^'* 

It is possible Lord Sterling might not have received 
my letter of the 4th of February j but it seems im- 



GENERAL WILKINSON. S93 

probable, since it was written with the privity of Doctor chap. 
Craigie, and carefully deposited in the post office with my 
own hands. A contrast of the acknowledgment contain- 
ed in this letter of his Lordship with his information* to 
General Washington from Reading, will establish my in- 
nocence and the extent of my wrongs, and will stamp the 
proper value on the candour of his Lordship; and the 
following letter will manifest the interest General Wash- 
iDilton took in the affair. 



« Valley Forge, March Qlst, 1778. 
« My Lord, . 

*«In answer to your favour of this date, give me leave 
to say, tliat I am well pleased with the termination of 
your correspondence with Colonel Wilkinson. I sent for 
that gentleman, after the conversation had with your 
Lordship, and shewed him the letters which Mr. Harri- 
son furnished you with a sight of; he seemed a good deajl 

surprised at G *s letters, and was not at all sparing 

in his abuse of him and Conway. 

<* The arrangement of the two regiments as inclosed 
by you, will be perfectly agreeable to me, and must I 
fancy be so to the * * *, unless it should interfere with 
any general plan they may have in view for the reduction 
of the sixteen additional battalions. 

« The sooner you can furnish the characters of the 
four Pennsylvania regiments in your division the better, 
as Generals Reed and Wayne are I believe upon that bu- 
siness with the whole Pennsylvania line. 
, « Colonel Burr must wait till more field officers re- 
turn to camp before he leaves it. The daily application 
lor discharges and furloughs distresses me beyond mea- 



» See General Gates's letter to General Wilkinson, Feb. 23d, 
1778 ; page 386, ante. 

Toi. L 3D 



39* MEMOIRS BY 

CHAP. sure. I am sorry to hear of your iudisposition, butholte 
^ it will soon 2:0 off. 

« 1 am your Lordship's most ob't humble serv't, 
« GO. WASHINGTON. 

« P. S. Upon re-examining the arrangement inclosed* 
I find first and second lieutenants, which are not to be 
in the new establishment. I also perceive that all the 
officers, nearly, are taken from Malcolm's regiment, fi 
this agreeable to Spencer? 

« Major- general Lord Sterling," 

Wilkinson A day or two after my arrival at camp, I was invited 
todVne^ to dine at head quarters, and made an apology; the next 
with day Colonel T. Tilghman, an aid-de-camp to the com- 

y^"g^j[|)^ 'inlander in chief, with whom I had been long acquainted, 
to». called on me, repeated the invitation, and observed, the 

General wanted to see me. I informed Colonel T. of 
the delicacy of my situation; "that reports had gone 
fortli, charging me with betraying private confidence to 
curry favour with the General, and that under such cir- 
cumstances, I was persuaded he would excuse the point 
of duty, and pardon me for avaoiding whatever might 
countenance the calumny." The morning after, Colonel 
Tilghman again called on me, and informed me from th^ 
* General, that it was concerning the circumstance to which 
I had alluded he desired to see me, and I tiiereupon en- 
gaged to dine with him. 
Interview 1 went early agre'eSbly to request, was kindly received^ I 
and con- j^^^] siR^r a few minutes the General invited me into hi» ' 

versauon 

with cabinet, and opened the subject of General Conway's 

Wariifne- ^^^^'** "^ conversation ensued, in which I took occasion 
ton. to remark on the cruel misrepresentations of Lord Ster- 

ling, disdaiming any correspondence or even acquaint- 
ance with M*Williams, and utterly denied the informa- 
tion he had received from his Lordship. The General • 
spoke freely of the cabal which had been formed againat 
him, and mentioned the persons whom he suspected ta bfe 



GENERAL WILKINSON. SOS 

at the bottom of it; he expressed himself entirely satis- chap. 
fied vvith my conduct, but observed, that it might be ma- '^' 
-terial to me, to know what had passed between General 
Gates and himself, respecting Conwaj's letter, and that 
he had desired to see me particularly on that subject ; 
that I had been charged with a serious offence, but that 
the motives and the grounds were too plain, to maka any 
impression on his mind injurious to me: he then called 
for the correspondence with General Gates, and laid be» 
fore me the following letters. 

f'Albamj December Zth, 1777 » 
*« Sip, 

" I shall not attempt to describe what as a private gen- 
tleman I cannot help feeling, on representing to my mind 
the disagreeable situation in which confidential letters^ 
when exposed to public inspection, may place an unsuspect- 
ing correspondent; but as a public officer, I conjure your 
excellency, to give me all the assistance you can, in 
tracing out the author of the infidelity which put extracts 
from General Conway's letters to me into your hands. 
Those letters have been stealingltj copied — but which of 
them, when, and by whom, is to me as yet an unfathonr- 
able secret. There is not one officer in my suite, nor 
amongst those who have free access to me, upon whom I 
could with the least justification to myself, fix the suspi- 
cion; and yet my uneasiness may deprive me of the use- 
fulness of the worthiest men. It is / believe in your eX" 
cellenctfs power to do me and the United States a very 
important service, by detecting a wretch who may be- 
tray me, and capitally injure the very operations under 
your immediate directions.^* For this reason. Sir, I beg 
your excellency will favour me with the proof you can 
jJTocure to that effect. But the crime being eventually 
so important, that the least loss of time may be attended 
with the worst consequences; audit being unknown to 
me, whether the letter came to you from a member of 
•Congress. or /rom an officer, 1 shall have the honour of 
* r.'^idently jrfluding to Colonel HamiUoji-. 




396 MEMOIRS BY 

transmitting a copy of this to the President, that the Con- 
gress may, in concert with your excellency, obtain as soon 
as possible a discovery, which so deeply affects the safety 
of the states. Crimes of that magnitude ought not to re- 
VO&in unpunished. 

« I have the honour to be, with the greatest respect, 
<» Your excellency's most humble 

<« and most obedient servant, 

" HORATIO GATES. 

<f His Excellency Gen* TFashingtonJ' 



*< Valley Forge, Jan. itiif 1777. 
<• Sir, 

" Your letter of the 8t!i ultimo, came to my hands a 
few days ago, and to my great surprise informed me, 
that a copy of it had been sent to Congress; for what rea- 
son I find myself unable to account; but as some end 
doubtless was intended to be answered by it, I am laid 
uiKler tlic disagi'eeable necessity of returning my answef 
through the same channel, lest any member of that ho- 
nourable body should liarbour an unfavourable suspicion 
of my having practised some indirect means, to come at 
the contents of the confidential letters between you and 
General Conway. 

<« I am to inform you then, that Colonel Wilkinson, in 
his way to Congress in the month of October last, fell in 
with Lord Sterling at Reading, and not in confidence 
that I ever understood, informed his aid-de-camp. Major 
M'Williams, that General Conway had written thus to 
you :— < Heaven has been determined to save your coun- 
try, or a weak general and bad counsellors would have 
ruined it.' Lord Sterling, from motives of friendship, 
transmitted the account with this remark: <TIie inclosed 
was communicated by Col. Wilkinson to Major M'Wil- 
liams; such duplicity of conduct I shall always think it 
my duty to detect.' 

« In consequence of this information, and without hav- 
ing any thing more in view tiian merely tQ shew that gen? 



GENERAL WILIUNSOK. 397 

tleman that I was not unapprised of liis intriguing dispo- chap 
«ition, I wrote him a letter in these words :— . *^' 

it Sir. — A letter which I received last night contained 
the following paragraph : < In a letter from General Con- 
way to General Gates, he says — Heaven has been deter- 
mined to save your conntnjy or a weak genei-al and bad couh- 
sellers would have ruined iV I am, &;c." 

« Neither this letter, nor the information which occa- 
sioned it, was ever directly or indirectly communicated 
by me to a single officer in tliis army out of my own fa- 
mily, excepting the Marquis de la Fayette, who having 
been spoken to on the subject by General Conway, ap- 
plied for and saw, under injunctions of secrecy, the letter 
which contained Colonel Wilkinson's information; so (Xoi- 
sirous was I of concealing every matter that could in its 
consequences give the smallest interruption to the tran- 
quillity of this army, or afford a gleam of hope to the 
enemy by dissensions therein. 

« Tiius, Sir, with an openness and candour, which I 
hope will ever characterise and mark my conduct, have 
I complied with your request. The only concern I feel upon 
the occasion, finding how matters stand is, that in doing this 
I have necessarily been obliged to name a gentleman whom 
I am persuaded, (^although I never exchanged a word with 
him upon the subject,) thought he was rather doing an act 
of justice than committing an act of iiifidelity; and sure | 
am, that till Lord Sterling's letter came to my hands, I 
never knew that General Conway (who I viewed in the 
light of a stranger to you) was a correspondent of yours j 
much less did I suspect, that I was the subject of your eon- 
fidential letters. — Pardon me then foi* adding, that so far 
from conceiving that the safety of the states can be affected^ 
or in tlie smallest degree injured by a discovery of this kind 
> — or that I should be called upon in such solemn terms to 
point out the author — that I considered the information as 
coming from yourself, and given xvith a friendly view to 
forewarn and consequently forearm me, against a secrei 



89S MEMOIRS BY ' 

CHAP, enemy, or in other words a dangerous incendiary'— -in which 
character, sooner or later, this country will know General 
Conway. — But in this, as in other matters of late, I have 
found myself mistaken. 

« I am, Sir, 

« Your most obedient servant, 
" GO. WASHINGTON. 
*« Tlie Hon, Major-general Gates,'* 

« Fork'toxon, January 23d, 1778, 
<* Sir, 

*« The letter of the 4th inst. which I had the honour to 
receive yesterday from your excellenry, has relieved me 
from unspeakable uneasiness. I now anticipate the plea- 
sure it will give you, when you discover that what has 
been conveyed to you for an extract of General Con- 
way's letter to me, was not an information which friend- 
ly motives induced a man of honour to give, that injured 
Virtue might be fore-armed against secret enomies. The 
paragraph which your excellency has condescended to 
transcribe, is spurious. It was certainly fabricated to 
answer the most selfish and wicked purposes. 

« I cannot avoid sketching out to your excellency the 
history of General Conway's letter, from the time that it 
came to my hands by Lieutenant-colonel Troup, my aid- 
de-camp, to whom General Conway delivered it at Read- 
ing on the 11th of October, to this time, as far as it has 
affected me and the officers of my family. 

"That letter contained very judicious remarks upo» 
that want of .discipline, which has often alarmed your 
Excellency, and 1 believe all observing patriots. The 
reasons which, in his judgment, deprived us of the suc- 
cess we would reasonably expect, were methodically ex- 
plained by him ; but neither the " weakness" of any of 
our generals, nor <» bad counsellor," were mentioned? 
and consequently cannot be assigned or imagined as part 
of those reasons to wiiich General Conway attributed 
some of our losses. He wrote to me as a candid observer, 
as other oflicers in every service write to each other, for 



GENERAL WILKINSON. ^90 

obtaining better intelligence than that of newspapers, and chap. 
that freedom renders such letters thus far confidential in *_^1 
some measure. The judgment of the person who received 
them, points out to him, according to time and circum- 
stances, the propriety or impropriety attending their 
being communicated, when no particftiai' injunction of 
secrecy was requested. 

« Particular actions rather than persons were blamed, 
but with impartiality; and I am convinced that he did 
not aim at lessening in my opinion the merit of any per- 
son. His letter was perfectly harmless ; however, now 
that various reports have been circulated concerning its 
contents, they ought not to be submitted to the solemn 
inspection of even those who stand most high in the public 
esteem. Anxiety and jealousy would arise in the breast 
of very respectable officers, who, rendered sensible of 
faults which inexperience, and that alone, may have led 
them into, would be unnecessarily disgusted, if they per- 
ceived a probability of such errrors being recorded. Ho- 
nour forbids it, and patriotism demands that I should re- 
turn the letter into the hands of the writer. I will do it; 
but at the same time I declare, that the paragraph con- 
veyed to your excellency as a genuine part of it, was in 
words as well as in substance a wicked forgery. 

« About the beginning of December I was informed 
that letter had occasioned an explanation between your 
Excellency and that gentleman. Not knowing whether 
the whole letter or part of it had been stealingly copied, 
but fearing malice had altered its original feature, I own 
Sir, that a dread of the mischiefs which might attend 
this forgery, I suspected would be made, put me for 
some time in a most painful situation. 

« When I communicated to the officers in my family 
the intelligence I had received, they all intreated me to 
rescue their characters from the suspicions they justly 
conceived themselves liable to, until the guilty person ' 
should he known. To facilitate the discovery, I wrote 
your Excellency ; but unable to learn whether General 
Conway's iettel* had been transmitted to you by a mem- 



400 MEMOIRS BY 

CHAP, ber of Congress or a gentleman in the army, I was, 
'^- afraid much time would be lost in the course of the in- 
quiry, and that the states might receive some capital in- 
jury from the infidelity of the person wlio I thought had 
stolen a copy of the obnoxious letter,*^ was it not probable, 
that the secrets; .f the army might be obtained and be- 
trayed through the same means to the enemy? — For this 
reason, Sir, not doubting the Congress would most cheer- 
fully concur with you in tracing out the criminal, I wrote 
to the President, and inclosed to him a copy of my letter 
to your excellency. 

*« About the time I was forwarding these letters, Bri- 
gadier-general Wilkinson returned to Albany. I inform- 
ed him of tlie treachery which had been committed, but 
I concealed from him the measure I was pursuing to un- 
mask the author, "Wilkinson answered, he was assured 
it never would come to light, and endeavoured to fix my 
suspicions on Lieutenant-colonel Troup, who, said he, 
might have incautiously conversed on the substance of 
General Conway's letter with Colonel Hamilton, whom 
you had sent not long before to Albany. 1 did not listen 
to this insinuation against your aid-de-camp and mine. 
I considered it even as ungenerous. But the light your 
excellency has just assisted me with, exhibiting the many 
qualifications which are necessarily blended together in 
the head and heart of General Wilkinson, I would not 
omit this fact; it will enable your excellency to judge 
whether or not he would scruple to make such a forgery 
as that which he now stands charged with, and ought to 
be exemplarily punished. To attempt sowing dissensions 
amongst the principal officers of the army, and rendering 
them odious to each other, by false suggestions and for- 
geries, is in my opinion a crime of the first magnitude ; 
it involves with it all the consequences of positive treason. 
« That the forgery now in view was machinated for 
f injuring General Conway, and perhaps myself, in your 
judgment, is now evident to me; and I trust the detection 
will operate as it ought to operate upon your excellency, 
* Again alluding to Colonel Hamilton. 



GENERAL WILKINSON. 40* 

i^s well as the members of the Congress, before whom your CIIA.F, 
Utter necessitates me to lay this answer. The station of 
the calumniator seems to justify your excellency for hav- 
ing believed, till now, that the extract was genuine ; and 
yet. Sir, I cannot help wishing you had sent me a copy 
of it immediately after your explanation with General 
Conway. 

« Would that your excellency's prediction relative to 
liim, had not been inserted in your letter, which came to 
me unsealed through the hands of Congress. 

" I sincerely wish the detection of this forgery may 
render us all more cautious, and that to procure a fair 
and dispassionate explanation, whenever insinuations arc 
inade to the prejudice of respected characters, may be- 
come an established rule in society as well as in public 
business, throughout the United States. 

" I am with unfeigned respect. Sir, 

*' Your excellency's most humble, 
" and most obedient servant, 

« HORATIO GATES. 
•« His Excellency Gen, Washington,^* 



t<H. q. Valley Forge, Feb. 9th, 1778. 
♦' Sir, 

« I was duly favoured with your letter of the 33d of 
last month, to which I should have replied sooner, had I 
not been delayed by business that required my more im- 
mediate attention. 

« It is my wish to give implicit credit to the assu- 
rances of every gentleman ; but in the subject of our pre- 
sent correspondence, I am sorry to confess, there liap- 
pens to be some unlucky circumstances, which involun- 
tarily compel me to consider the discovery you mention, 
not so satisfactory and conclusive as you seem to think it. 

" I am so unhappy as to find no small difficulty in re- 
conciling the spirit and import of your different letters, 
and sometimes the different parts of the same letter with 
each other. It is not unreasonable to presume that your 
vox. I. 3 E 



4i02 MEMOIRS BY 

CHAP, first information of my having notice of General Con- 
*^' way's letter, came from himself; there were very few iii 
the secret, and it is natural to suppose that he being im- 
mediately concerned, would be the most interested to 
convey the intelligence to you ; it is also far from im- 
probable, that he acquainted you with the substance of 
the passage communicated to me : one would expect this, 
if he believed it to be spurious, in order to ascertain the 
imposition, and evince his innocence, especially as he 
seemed to be under some uncertainty, as to the precise 
contents of what he had written, when I signified my 
knowledge of the matter to him. If he neglected doing 
it, the omission cannot easily be interpreted into any 
thing else than a consciousness of the reality of the ex- 
tract, if not literally at least substantially. If he did not 
neglect it, it must appear somewhat strange, that the for- 
gery remained so long undetected, and that your first 
letter to me from Albany of the 8th of December, should 
tacitly recognise the genuineness of the paragraph in 
question, while your only concern, at that time, seemed 
to be the <• tracing out the author of the infidelity which 
put extracts of General Conway's letters into my hands." 
Throughout the whole of that letter the reality of the ex- 
tracts is by the fairest implication allowed, and your only 
solicitude was to find out the person who brought them 
to light. After making the most earnest pursuit of the 
author of the supposed treachery, without saying a word 
about the truth or falsehood of the passage, your letter 
of the 23d ultimo, to my great surprise, proclaims it " in 
words as well as in substance, a wicked forgery." 

*' It is not my intention to contradict this assertion, but 
only to intimate some considerations which tend to induce 
a supposition, that though none of General Conway's let- 
ters to you contain the offensive passage mentioned, there 
might have been sometliing in them too nearly related to 
it, that could give such an extraordinary alarm. It may 
be said, if this were not the case, how easy in the first in- 
stance to have declared there was nothing exceptionable 
in them, and to have produced the letters themselves in 



GENERAL WILKINSON, 103 

support of it? This may be thoiiglit the most proper and chap. 
efft'ctual way of refuting misrepresentations and reinov- '^ 
ing all suspicion. , The propriety of the objections sug- 
gested against submitting them to inspection, may very 
well be questioned. The various reports circulated con- 
cerning their contents were, perhaps, so many arguments 
for making them speak for themselves, to place tiie matter 
upon the footing of certainty. Concealment in an affair 
which had made so much noise, though not by my means, 
will naturally lead men to conjecture the worst, and it will 
be a subject of speculation even to candour itself. The 
anxiety and jealousy you apprehend from revealing the 
letter, will be very apt to be increased by suppressing i(. 
"It may be asked, why not submit to inspection a 
performance perfectly harmless, and of course conceived 
in terms of proper caution and delicacy ? Why suppose 
that " anxiety and jealousy v/ould liave arisen in the 
breasts of very respectable officers, or that tliey would 
have been unnecessarily disgusted at being made sensible 
of their faults, when related with judgment and impartia- 
lity by a candid observer?" Surely they could not have 
been unreasonable enough to take offence at a perform- 
ance so perfectly inoffensive, "blaming actions rather 
than persons," which have evidently no connexion with 
one another, and indulgently " recording the errors of 
inexperience." 

" You are pleased to consider General Conway's let- 
ters as of a confidential nature, observing that, " time 
and circumstances must point out the propriety or impro- 
priety of communicating sucii letters." Permit me to 
inquire, whether, when there is an impropriety in com- 
munication, it is only applicable with respect to the par- 
ties, who are the subjects of them. One might be led to 
imagine this to be the case, from your having admitted 
others into the secret of your confidential correspondence, 
at the same time that you thought it ineligible, it should 
be trusted to those officers, wiiose actions underwent its 
scrutiny. Your not knowing whether the letter, under 
consideration, <f came to me from a member of Congress, 



401 MEMOIRS BY 

ciiAi* or from an ofticer," plainly indicates, that you had, ori 
ginaily, communicated it to at least one of that honoura- 
ble body ; and I learn from General Conway, that before 
his late arrival at York-town, it had been committed to 
the perusal of several of its members, and was afterwards 
shewn by himself to three more. It is somewhat difficult 
to conceive a reason founded in generosity, for imparting 
the free and confidential strictures of that ingenious cen- 
sor, on the operations of the army under my command, 
to a member of Congress, but, perhaps, «' time and cir- 
cumstances pointed it out." It must indeed be acknow- 
ledged, that the faults of very respectable officers, not 
less injurious for being the result of inexperience, were 
not improper topics to engage the attention of members 
of Congress. 

« It is, however, greatly to be lamented, that this adept 
in military science, did not employ his abilities in the 
progress of the campaign, in pointing out those wise mea- 
sures, which wepe calculated to give us, <* that degree of 
success we might reasonably expect." The United States 
have lost much, from that unseasonable diffidence, which 
prevented his embracing the numerous opportunities, he 
had in council, of displaying those rich treasures of 
knowledge and experience, he has since so freely laid 
open to you. I will not do him the injustice to impute 
the penurious reserve, which ever appeared in him upon 
such Occasions, to any other cause than an excess of mo- 
desty, neither will I suppose, he possesses no other merit 
than of that after kind of sagacity, which qualifies a man 
better for profound discoveries of errors, that have been 
committed, and advantages that have been lost, than fop 
the exercise of that foresight and provident discernment, 
which enable him to avoid the one and anticipate the 
other. But willing as I am to subscribe to all his pre- 
tensions, and to believe that his remarks on the opera- 
tions of the campaign were very judicious, and that he 
has sagaciously discanted on many things, that might 
have been done, I cannot help being a little sceptical, as 
to his ability to have found out the means of accomplish- 



GENERAL WILKINSON. 405 

in,!; them, or to prove the sufficiency of those in our pos- chap. 
session. These minutiae I suspect he did not think worth *^' 
his attention, particularly as they might not be within the 
compass of his views. 

« Notwithstanding the hopeful presages, you are pleas- 
ed to figure to yourself, of General Conway's firm and 
constant friendship to America, I cannot persuade my- 
self, to retract the prediction concerning him, which you 
so emphatically wish had not been inserted in my last ; a 
better acquaintance with him, than I have reason to think 
you have had, from what you say, and a concurrence of 
circumstances oblige me to give him but little credit for 
the qualities of his heart, of which, at least I beg leave to 
assume the privilege of being a tolerable judge, ^yere it 
necessary, more instances than one might be adduced 
from his behaviour and conversation, to manifest that he 
is capable of all the malignity of detraction, and all the 
meannesses of intrigue, to gratify the absurd resentment 
of disa])pointed vanity, or to answer the purposes of per- 
sonal aggrandisement and promote the interest of a 
faction. 

<•' I am with respect. Sir, 

« Your most obedient servant, 

« GO. AVASHINGTON. 
** Major-general Gates. ^* 

This exposition unfolded to me a scene of perfidy and Indlgna- 
duplicity, of which I had no suspicion, and compared fes'JJdTy 
with General Gates's explanation to me, at York-town, Wilkin- 
must excite the abhorrence of every man of honour ; I exposition 
certainly gave vent to my feelings in a burst of indigna- of General 
tion, but did not confine my reproaches to Generals and Lord 
Gates and Conway j because Lord Sterling was equally Sterling's 
culpable for availing himself of the vile subserviency of his 
aid-decamp, M<Williams, to misrepresent me in the secret 
information conveyed by him to General Washington j in 
consequence of which General Gates, had formed suspi- 
cion3 injurious to Colonel Hamilton, and designed his 
artful letter of tlie 8th December in the expectation of 



406 MEMOIRS BY 

CHAP, detecting the thief and disgracing the receiver; but being 
*^ mortified and chagrined by his disappointment, he at- 
^'''''^^''*^ tempted to vindicate Conway, by converting Lord Sterl- 
ing's information into a forgery, of which, to sooth his 
mortification and resentment, he determined to make me 
the author! Sad requital for all my services; monstrous 
deed! the justice of Heaven soon precipitated him from 
the pinnacle of undeserved fame to the abyss of humilia- 
tion — an object of compassion.* 

But Lord Sterling in liis letter to me of the 18th of 
March, explicitly admits that the conversation at Read- 
ing respecting Conway's letter, « passed in a private 
company during a convivial hour^" which flatly contra- 
dicts his report to General Washington and acquits mc 
of dishonour; the whole tenor of General Gates's let- 
ter, to General Washington of December 8th, admits 
the existence of the fact which he afterwards denies, and 
the charge he makes, that <•' those letters have been 
STEALINGLY COPIED," emanated from the suspicion he 

* " September m, 1781. 

" Dear Sir, 

" I wish this letter may find you safe at home, and that you and the 
financier have effected every good purpose by your journey. In re- 
gard to myself, (for I know nothing of public affairs,) I remain in a 
most distressful situation, neither Congress nor General Washington 
having deigned to give me any answer to the letters, 1 wrote them 
upon my leaving Philadelphia. Oh P s had I never left my peace- 
ful cottage and paid but half the attention to my private concerns 
which I paid to the public's, my son had been alive, and my circum- 
stances infinitely beyond what they now are; but by serving the Unit- 
ed States I have lost one and almost ruined the other. I am now a 
General without pay, without provisions, without forage, and without 
every thing I ought in honour and conscience to be supplied with. 
The most implacable enemies, seldom carry resentments to such 
enormous lengths as those practised upon me. The base Catthage- 
neans murdered Zantippus, and the cruel Spaniards murdered Colum- 
bus with chains; but 1 trust, American independence will be marked 
with more generous characters. I cannot write more than to request 

you will present our compliments to Mrs. P s and family. 

•• Your's truly, 

"HORATIO GATES. 
« Ji. p s, Esq:' 



GENERAL WILKINSON. 407 

attached to Colonel Hamilton, which alone could have in- chap. 
duced him to stir the inquiry, in the awful and exigent *^" 
manner he did in that letter; nor could any less extraor- 
dinary motive, have induced him to hazard the violation 
of the rules of decorum and the principles of service, by 
addressing the commander in chief on a subject of ex- 
treme delicacy, in an open letter transmitted through the 
President of Congress. But I trespass on the time of 
the reader, in this attempt to throw light on a subject, so 
ably and candidly discussed, at the time, by General 
Washington himself, as to cover his adversary with the 
shame and humiliation, betrayed in the following letter 
abounding with adulation and hypocrisy; wherein he ap- 
pears to abandon the question and tacitly acknowledge, 
that he had been overreached by his own artifices. 

" York, Feb. 19th, 1778. 
« Sir, 

« Yesterday I had the honour to receive your excel- 
lency's letter of the 9th instant, and earnestly hope no 
more of that time so precious to the public, may be lost 
upon the subject of General Comvay^s letter, whether that 
gentleman does or does not deserve the suspicions you ex- 
press, would be entirely indifferent to me, did he not pos- 
sess an office of high rank in thQ army of the United 
States, for that reason solely, I wish he may answer all 
the expectations of Congress. As to tlie gentleman I 
have no pei-sonal connexion with him, nor had I any cor- 
respondence, previous to his writing the letter which has 
given offence; for have I sikce written to him, 
save to certify what I know to be the contents of the letter : 
he, therefore, nmst be responsible; as I heartily dislike con- 
troversy even upon my own account and much more in a 
matter wherein I was only accidentally concerned. lu 
regard to the parts of your excellency's letter addressed 
particularly to me / solemnly declare that lam of no fac- 
tion; and if any of my letters taken aggregately or by 
paragraphs convey any meaning, which in any construc- 
tion is offensive to your excellency, that was by no means 



lOii MEMOIRS BY 

CHAP, the intention of the writer, after this, I cannot believe 
*^" your excellency will either suffer your suspicions or the 
prejudices of others, to induce you to spend another mo- 
ment upon this subject. 

« With great respect, I am, Sir, 
« Your excellency's 

« Most obedient humble servant, 
"HORATIO GATES. 
« His Excellency General Washington.^* 



« Valley Forge, Feb. QUh, 1778. 
« Sir, 

*» I yesterday received your favour of the 1 9th instant, 
I am as averse to controversy as any man, and had I not 
been forced into it, you never would have had occasion 
to impute to me, even a shadow of a disposition towards 
it. Your repeatedly and solemnly disclaiming any offen- 
sive views in these matters, which have been the subject 
of your past correspondence, makes me willing to close 
with the desire you express of burying them hereafter in 
silence, and, as far as future events will permit, oblivion. 

« My temper leads me to peace and Jiarmojiy with all 
men, and it is particularly my wish to avoid any personal 
feuds or dissensions with those who are embarked in the 
same great national interest with myself, as every dif- 
ference of this kind must, in its consequences, be in- 
jurious. 

<« I am. Sir, 

« Your most obedient servant, 

« GO. WASHINGTON. 
« Major-general Gates." 

But in respect to this letter of Conway about which 
such a noise was made. General Gates was so much 
pleased* with it, that he read it in triumph, and Conway 
himself, flattered by the applause he acquired from the 

* See Gates's letter to Conway, Dec. 3d, 1777, page 374, 



GENERAL WILKINSON. 409 

enemies of General Washington for this performance, chap. 
yielded to the amour propre, and made no secret of the '^" 
contents;* and to these concurrent facts, tlie opinion of 
the bosom friend of General Gates might he added, to ab- 
solve me from the foul imputation levelled at my honour. 
Major-general Charles Lee thus expressed himself in a 
letter to General Gates, bearing date, «« Pliiladelpliia, 
March 29th, 1779. With respect to Wilkinson, I really 
think he has been a man more sinned against than any, I 
think (at least from all I have been able to gather) tliat 
he, as well as your honour, has been made a most egre- 
gious dupe io the affair between you. If is a dark black 
piece of hnsiness, and I have no doubt will one day be dis- 
closed to the world; he was put on a wrong scent, when he 
aimed his pistol at your head, and you when you aimed at 
his. Alexander (pas le grand mais le gros) and his He- 
plirestion M'Williams were the proper objects of your re- 
.spective resentments." And to fulfil the prediction of 
this singular compound of good and evil, of greatness and 
littleness, was among the incitements which determined 
me to (mdcrtake the toilsome duty, of leaving behind me 

I tliese records of my independence, my disinterestedness, 
my innocence, my honour, and my persecutions. 
After perusing the letters placed before me by General 

" Washington, 1 explained to his entire satisfaction, Gene- 

1 ral Gates's scandalous, but cunning allusion to my ob- 

■ servation respecting Colonels Hamilton and Troup, and 
requested a copy of the letters, with which I was furnish- 
ed j I retired soon after dinner to my quarters, I confess 

I in no very pleasant mood, and determined to resign my 

' appointment of secretary to the war department, which I 
carried into execution a few days after in the following 

i letter. 

,i 

': «< Readings March 29th, 1778. 

i « Sir, 

• " While I make my acknowledgments to Congress for 

f i the appointment of secretary to the board of war and 



• See Gordon, page 306. — Graydon's Memoirs, page 278. 
VOL. I. 3 F 



410 MEMOIRS BY 

CHAP, ordnance, I am sorry I should be constrained to resigo 
^^ thai office ; but after the acts of treachery and falsehoodt 
in which I have detected Major-general Gates, the pre- 
sident of that board, it is impossible for me to reconcile it 
to my honour to serve with him. 

"I have the honour to be, Sir, 
<* Your obedient servant, 

«JAS. WILKINSON. 
•« The Hon. Henry Laurens Esq. 

President of Congress.^* 

I had previously resigned my brevet of l^rigadier-gc- 
iieral on grounds of patriotism, but I still retained ray 
commission of colonel, which never was to my knowledge 
revoked ; yet the dominant influence of General Gates^, 
and the feuds and factions and intrigues which prevailed 
in Congress and in the army at that day, threw me out 
of emplov ; but on the 24th day of July, 1779, the Con- 
gress appointed me clotliier-general to the army of the, 
United States, which office I accepted for the following 
reasons. 

1st. — It discredited a report put in circulation, that I 
had by my conduct to General Gates, forfeited the public 
confidence. 

2d. — It gratified my affections by associating me with 
my military friends, who were of the first rank and 
worth, and among them, I can name Greene, St. Clair, 
Smallvvood, Knox, Wayne, 0. Williams, H. Lee, &c.; 
and 

3d. — It indulged my leading passion, by furnishing me 
the opportunity to witness and participate in the opera- 
tions of the war. 

I regret that the limits prescribed to these memoirs, 
should compel me in this place, to close my details of the 
incidents of the revolution, wiiich fell under my own ob- 
servation, or are founded on the information of conspicu- 
ous actors in the most interesting scenes ; because prac- 
tical knowledge is derived from observation and expe- 
rience, which furnisJi the ablest guides to the states mar 



GENERAL WILKINSON. Ui 

as well as the soldier. At a time of more leisure and CHAP, 
convenience I shall resume the subject, and complete '"^^ 
what I have hegun, being persuaded that however I may 
fail to interest or amuse the reader, I shall perpetuate 
some facts which may be serviceable to the future histo- 
rian. At present to compass the objects before me, and 
fulfil my engagements, I am obliged to invite the atten- 
tion of my readers to matters of more recent date, which> 
if not so interesting, may be found more useful. 



41S MEMOIRS BY 



CHAPTER X. 

J glance at affairs on the western frontier in the mitumn of 
1806. — ,3ggressions of the citizens of the United States, 
rvith the connivance of the government. — Secret missions 
of Shaler and Robinson. — Declaration of Lord Temple 
in 1763. — Applicable to our own circumstances. — Salu- 
tary policij towards the Spanish Cortes, and the conse- 
quences. — Mr, Madison and Dr. Eustis. — Examination 
of the policy to be pursued relative to the Mexican pro- 
vinces. — Their soil, climate and productions. — Effects of 
their emancipation. — Cause of the reflections made there- 
on. — Report of a tour from JVacogdoches to the city of 
Mexico and from thence to Vera CruaandA''ew Orleans. 

CHAP. The pretensions of the United States to the iinset- 

^,,^^,^^ tied western boundary of Louisiana, induced the Spanish 
government in the spring of 1806, to push forward a mi- 
litary corps and take possession of the country east of the 
Sabine river, as far as the Arroyo Honda, a small rivulet 
within six miles of Natchitoches, which the Spanish com- 
mander, Governor Herrara, claimed as the ancient boun- 
dary of the province of Texas. To repel the invasion, 
the President of the United States ordered a small body 
of troops, to be assembled at Natchitoches, where I found 
tliem unprepared, even, in the indispensable article of am- 
munition ; as soon as tliis detachment was equipped for 
action, I advanced against the intruders, who prevented 
a collision of arms, by suddenly withdrawing behind the 
Sabine; and a pacific convention ensued, by which it was 
stipulated, that tlie ground between the Sabine and the 
Arroyo Ilonda, should not be entered on by the citizens 
or subjects of cither party, pending the discussions between 
the two governments. This convention was respected by 
the Spaniards, but little regard was paid to it by the citi- 
zens of the United States. Subsequent to this incident, 
sundry aggressions have been made on the province of 



GENERAL WILKINSON. 413 

Texas, by our citizens in that quarter; not under the chap. 
direct authorit)' of oiirgovernment,but, from tlie following ^ 
circumstances it has been presumed, with its connivance. 

In the years 1812-13, a Mr. Shaler, who was consi- 
dered a seci'et agent of the United States, took his station 
at Natchitoches, and I have good cause for belief, that 
this gentleman proceeded to the city of St. Antonio, and 
there joined the armament of General Toledo ; but the 
adverse fortunes of the patriots, obliging him to retire 
from the Spanish province, he returned to the city of 
Washington, and has since received a foreign appoint- 
ment of high trust. About the same time a Doctor Ro- 
binson, whom I had employed to accompany Captain 
Pike, in exploring the sources of Red River, was sent by 
tlie government, on a secret expedition, into the internal 
Spanish provinces, where he continued several months, 
and I saw him at New Orleans, as he returned to the 
seat of government to make his report, since which time 
I know not w hat has become of him ,• he was a favourite 
of General Pike, a man faithful to his country, and of 
great hardihood and entci'prise. I am unacquainted with 
the particular service, on which those gentlemen were 
employed, for although in the chief military command, 
on the Mississippi, and possessing tenfold knowledge of 
the topography and population of the Mexican provinces, 
and of the political views of the Mexicans, founded on 
more than twenty years research, I received no intima- 
tion of the objects of those missions. 

In the year 1763, when the celebrated William Pitt 
and his whig associates, were struggling against the cur- 
rent of executive influence, the increasing corruption of 
the British cabinet, and the party behind the throne, the 
virtuous Lord Temple exclaimed, " I detest with ferven- 
cy and sincerity, a government of secresy, hypocrisy and 
treachery," and it rests with the people of these states, 
wliom it vitally interests, to decide how lar these deform- 
ed features may apply, to the administration of our own 
republican government; nor is it unworliiy of inquiry, 
wliethcr official malversations have not been countcnan- 



414j memoirs by 

CHAP, ced, truths supprpssed, and frauds and inisrepresenta- 
ti. 'lis resorted to, to uphold personal ambition, and favour 
inilividual interests, in preference to the public weal. 
The public weal ! alas ! it has been long since sacrificed 
to far tious influence ; and the obliquity of treachery, is 
preferred to the rectitude of inte,e;rity. 

To recur to our Spanish relations, although it might 
be presumptuous for me to say, what ought to have been, 
the conduct of the executive towards that nation ; yet, I 
have no hesitaticm to declare, if the decision had rested 
with me, the Cortes would have been acknowledged and 
their minister received, at a time, when the nation was 
engaged in defence of those sacred rights, which they as- 
sisted us to establish. Such a decision would have met 
the manly feelings of the country, and fostered the love 
of liberty in our own bosoms ; it would have enlivened 
public spirit, and pointed the virtue of the patriot, with 
the honour of the man ; and what would have been the 
result of this magnanimous policy ? I am almost autho- 
riseil to assert, and do verily believe, that our claims for 
spoliations would have been cancelled, by the concession 
of the FInridas, and the western limits of Louisiana would 
have been adjusted to our satisfaction : and thus the 
grounds of future wars would have been extinguished. 
But could wc expect to find spirit or patriotism, or pub- 
lic virtue, in President Madison? Yes! Doctor Eustis has 
proclaimed to the world, that he is " the most perfect of 
men," and for tlie discovery, tlie Doctor has been recom- 
pensed with a diplomatic appointment, where none was 
necessary, at the expense of an hundred tiiousand dollars 
of the public treasure; a high price for a spiri of adulation. 

But the error is irrecoverably past j and, now, should 
we inquire for that course of policy towards Spain, which 
may be most favotirable to the United States, we shall 
find the question wrapped in perplexities, which deeply 
involve the best feelings and interests of confederated 
America. -I will hazard a summary analysis of the sub- 
ject, in the hope, that however foreign to the pursuits of 
my life, 1 may perchance give birth to a siig'gestion, sus- 



GENERAL WILKINSON. 41^ 

ceptible of improvement by those who may be endowed chap. 
with superior intelligence. ^ 

It will be admitted on all hands, that the integrity of 
the union is the palladium of our political salvation, and 
the preservation of the national government, indispensa- 
ble to our social rights and happiness ; these form, or 
should form, the great primary objects of our cares and 
soli( itudes, and of consequence that course of policy ought 
to be preferred, which is best calculated to preserve and 
perpetuate them. Then let us inquire, whether the union 
and the constitution of these states, may be best supported 
and protected, by restraining our enterprise to legitimate 
bounds, and confining our political pursuits to our own na- 
tional limits; leaving all other powers and people, to the 
unmolested enjoyment of those indefeasible riglUs, which 
we ourselves claim; "to manage our own affairs m our 
own way ?" or whether those fundamental rights and in- 
terests maybe best secured, by stepping over the national 
bounds, and violating the sovereignty of a power at peace 
with us, expressly to establish the independence of a peo- 
ple, S(dicitous for an alliance with us, founded on local in- 
terests and political sympathy ; and who in a state of 
freedom, would, from their proximity and their popula- 
tion, become a powerful ally ; or reduced to a state of 
vassalage under an enterprising prince, might, from the 
same causes, be converted into unfriendly neighbours, or 
dangerous enemies. 

The candid examination of these propositions in their 
order, will on one hand present to the citizens of the 
United States, the sources of peace, safety, progressive 
improvement, national prosperity and individual happi- 
ness, with the full enjoyment of those rights, powers and 
relations, which are essential to the peaceful adjustment 
of our controversies with Spain, by amicable negociation 
on grounds of equity. But on the other hand, a very dif- 
ferent prospect is presented to the American people, more 
glorious indeed but less felicitous ; we behold it pregnant 
with war and productive of expense, but it will increase 
our present power, exalt ow national chars^cter, swell 



416 MEMOIRS BY 

CHAP, our political importance, open to us new sources of wealth 
^' and give liberty to millions. This is the fair side of the 
picture ; let us look at the reverse, it will augment exe- 
cutive patronage and multiply tlie sources of corruption j 
it will open a boundless range, to the enterprise and am- 
bition of our adventurous countrymen^ will dissipate our 
population, and by distending the bounds of the union 
will accelerate its dissolution. 

Such are the political conserjucnces, but let us see what 
may be the natural effects, of our p(ditical association with 
independent Spanish America. The Mexican kingdoms 
taken in their extent, from the isthmus of Darien to the 
source of the Rio Bravo, produce a greater variety ol 
necessaries, comforts and luxuries, than any equal por- 
tion of the globe ; where, besides, can we find every fruit 
and every product, which grows in the western hemis- 
pliere, with lead, iron, copper, silver, and gold? the sur- 
face of this section of the Spanish Indies is diversified by 
liills, vales, mountains, and plains, the arable part of 
which is represented to be exceedingly luxuriant; it 
abounds with flocks and herds, and its population at the 
pi-escnt time can be little short of eight millions, which 
under a free government must increase rapidly, the cli- 
mate being divine ; tlie cotton plant when cultivated is 
quadrennial, tiie third crop being the most productive ; it 
differs from that of the United States in colour and qua- 
lity, and I have understood is preferable. The soil in 
the appropriate latitude is very favourable to the culture 
of sugar, and I have seen specimens from Vera Cruz of 
superior quality. Self-government in such a region will 
expand the intellect, and must excite enterprise and in- 
dustry, which will soon be followed by the civil arts, 
agriculture and commerce; and then the immense plains of 
Texas, embracing millions of acres, may be changed from 
a state of nature into compact sugar and cotton planta- 
tions, and Mattagorda become a port of primary import- 
ance. 

With the most favourable dispositions towards the 
Mexican people, whose cause cannot be indifferent to a 



GENERAL WILKINSON. 417 

iiian who worships human rights, as the richest earthly cii.\P, 
treasure, 1 have been led by the paramount duty to my ^ 
country to submit to my fellow citizens, these limited 
viows of a most important question to tliemselves and 
posterity. There can be no doubt that the independence 
of tlie Mexican kin,«;doms may be established by the mere 
volition of the United States, and if we consult our fcel- 
in,^s only, that sympathy w hirh springs out of the analogy 
of their present circumstances to our own formercondition, 
would impel us to take arms for their emancipation ; but 
if we temper our sensibilities with sound discretion and 
sober reason, suggestions well worthy consid ration may 
arise out of the paramount obligations of self-preservation. 

With due deference I submit these speculations to the 
good sense of my countrynien, and shall proceed to lay 
before them the substance of a report, which, in the pre- 
sent agitation of Mexican affairs, cannot fail to interest 
the reader. 

As soon as I had disengaged myself from the Spaniards 
at the Sabine River, in the autumn of 1S06, and was sa- 
tisfied an illicit project was on foot, which menaced the 
Sj)anish provinces, as well as the peace of the United 
States, I determined, on grounds of public duty and pro- 
fessional enterprise, to attempt to penetrate the veil, 
which concealed tlsc topographical route to the city of 
Mexico, and the military defences which intervened, 
• feeling that the equivocal relations of the two countries 
jusiified the ruse. I'o facilitate my views, I i)repared a 
suitable passport, and committed the execution of the de- 
sign to a dear and honoured friend, whose zeal and pa- 
triotism, were unequalled but by his integrity, and ho- 
nour, and his fitness for tlie undertaking. 

« To all Persons xvhom these Presents may concern : — 

" Know Ye — Tliat w hereas \ — , at the head of a 

powerful combination of lawless citizens of tlie United 
States, in violation of the laws of the said states, and 
without the privity of the government, is preparing to 
carry an expedition into the territories of his Catholic 
>'wi<, I. 3 G 



418 MEMOIRS BY 

CHAP. Majesty, a prince at peace with the United States; I 
^ have tliouglit proper, agreeably to the principles of good 
faith, and to exonerate n»y government from any par- 
ticipation in the sinister project, to authorise the bearer 

hereof -, to pass all guards an<l garrisons of the 

United States, and to proceed to the city of Mexico, for 
the purpose of rendering to the viceroy a detailed report 
of said 's plans and designs. 

« Given at Natchez, territory of the Mississippi, No- 
vember 15th, 1806. Witness my hand and seal of arms. 

[SEAL.] (Signed) " JA. WILKINSON." 

Extract from a report rendered to Brigadier-general Wilkin- 

son, by Col. , dated JVew Orleans, Mar. 7th f 1807. 

« I am about to give you an account of my late trip, 
which being altogether from memory, cannot be so cor- 
rect as I could desire, or you may expect. I have been 
hurried over a road of more than twelve hundred miles, 
fearftd of making inquiry lest I should be suspected, 
and obliged therefore to trust to transient observation, 
and the information incidental to conversation. 

« To avoid confusion, I have drawn up a description 
of the route and distances, which you will find annexed; 
and in tliis letter I shall confine myself to such observa- 
tions and occurrences, as I can clearly recollect and are 
worthy of notice. 

" I arrived at Nacogdoches without obstruction on the 
29th November. x\t this place Governor Herrera* was 
in command, to whom I shewed your passport, which 
gave him much alarm. The place I filled in the cam- 
paign, gave me unexpected importance, but he was very 

anxious to know every thing about , and his plans. 

I said enough to increase his apprehension; observing, I 
was prohibited giving the particulars to any person but 
the viceroy, pretending great indifference whether I pro- 
ceeded or not. 



* This gentleman was made prisoner at St. Antonio, by a body of 
insurgents, and with a number of officers, was murdered in cold 
blood. 



■ 



GENERAL WILKINSON. 419 

*' After a delay of four days lie informed me I might chap. 
proceed, and that he would send his son with rac, under ^" 
the very civil pretence of accommodating me, but in fact 

to have a v\ atch over me. He told me and — — — . 

were at St. Antonio, and advised me to leave that place 
on my right, and pass by La Bahia. It seemed, that 
Laving made up his mind to let me go on, he was de- 
sirous of having the credit of sending me. 

« I accordingly set out on horseback, accompanied by 

young , on the 6th of December j but on my arrival 

at La Bahia, found a messenger with an invitatioUf but 
in effect an order, from , to visit him at St. Anto- 
nio. Here I found the Captain-general and Governor 

. He received me very politely, and after having my 

passport explained, appeared satisfied, and observed " it 
was a strong evidence of good faith ;" but seemed de- 
sirous to receive every thing I had to communicate, and 
to save me the trouble of a ride to Mexico, by expatiating 
on the length of the route, and the difficulties I should 
liaveto encounter; but the objection 1 made to — - — was 
repeated to him, and had the same effect, for I was con- 
sidered under military command, (in spite of whatever I 
could say to the contrary,) and therefore had no dis- 
cretion left me. I had about an hour's conversation with 
this gentleman, during which he requested — — • to with- 
draw; he seemed to be well satisfied with the result of 
the last campaign, and expressed strong wishes that the 
peace of the two countries should be preserved. I found 
liim a man of the w orld and of information. 

« I learnt that his government was quite independent 
of the viceroy, and that he was empowered to demand 
from him, six thousand regular troops for the defence of 
his provinces, whenever he judged it to be necessary ; 
that he had made this demand the last year, but that the 
viceroy had sent him only militia ; it was however inti- 
mated, that the case would be different the approaching 
season. 

*« He gave me to understand that his force was formi- 
dablc; and that the frontier would be reinfoi-ced this 



42(J Memoirs by 

CHAP, spring; but notl)ing fell from him indicative of an liostilc 
"^ intention {wards the United States; yet he contradicted 

himself, for speaking of with detestation, he said, 

" He wished he had troops to enable htm to co-operate 
wit!) us." 

" As I did not resume my route by La Bahia, this 
may be the most p!<«])er place to ofiTei' the reflections 
which arose fi'om my view of tlie situation of that place. 
It is a pi try village, situate on an eminence on the right 
bank of the river St. Antonio, about thirty miles from 
its efflux into the bay of St. Bernard, or Matagorda, 
which is capable of admittin.j; vessels of any burthen, and 
of receiving a fleet. I am pretty well assured, that the 
Spaniards are preparing to form a strong establishment 
at this i)ojnt, and to uiake it a place of arms; and I have 
no doubt it will be found an important position, to op- 
pose any irruption into the interior provinces from this 
quarter, which I believe to be the only route by which 
a successful attempt can be made, to conquer or rescue 
the kingdoms of Mexico : therefore, should the United 
States find it necessary, to act for or against that coun- 
try, it should be a primary object to get possession of 
this port, which from its situation could be easily defend- 
ed, and where our stores of ammunition, artillery and ^ 
provisions should be deposited ; as no obstacle to the 
inarch of an army will be found between Nacogdoches 
and that place, the intermediate country being, as you 
will observe by the adjoined notes, almost a continual 
plain, with no riveis which are not easily fordable, and 
without defiles. 

« I left General on the 20th of December, and 

took the direct route from St. Antonio to Larrcdo, on the 
left bank of Rio Grande, which I reached on the 24th, 
the distance being computed at 120 miles, making a dif- 
ference of miles in favour of the route by La Bahia. 
which is also preferable on account of water. From Na- 
cogdoches to this place, we pass through a country wild, 
uncullivated, and generally bare of wood, but of luxuriant 
soil, and yet exhibiting tlic miserable settlements of Na 



GENERAL WILKINSON. 4S1 

cogdoches, St. Antonio, La Bahia and Larredo only, with chap. 
a population of eight or ten thousand souls, strangers to ^ 
the civil arts, and subsisting principally by the chase. 
This country abounds with deer, buffaloe and wild horses, 
but furnishes few domestic herds or flocks. 

« I crossed the Rio Grande on Christmas day, and 
reached Monte del Rey, on the first of January, passing 
through two or three villages on my route. The popu- 
lation increases after we leave Larredo, and the country 
abounds with domestic animals, almost beyond credibi- 
lity ; the price of a bull or cow (there are few oxen) being 
from three to six dollars, of a sheep from half a dollar 
to a dollar, and in proportion for horses and mules, in 
thousands and tens of thousands. 

" From Rio Grande the country rises, and you find 
the surface broken as you approach Monte del Rey, with- 
in thirty or forty miles of which place, you first discern 
distant mountains. This is a small city, the capital of 
the province of New Leon, and subject to the viceroy of 
Mexico, situated near the foot of a mountain, and is in- 
differently built; the houses are very generally formed of 
cubical masses of indurated clay, which by drying take 
the appearance of stone, but are not proof against the 
torrents of rain, which fall during the summer almost 
without intermission ; the remains of several were shewn 
me, which had been washed away the preceding summer: 
I however observed several private buildings of stone, 
which looked well ; their public edifices are superb. At 
this place you discover the first traces of European 
manners. 

*' The population of this province was reported to me 
at 80,000. I ventured to inquire what that of the city 
might be, but got no satisfaction : I think it cannot exceed 
12,000 souls. 

" I departed from Monte del Rey the 3d of January, 
and immediately found myself surrounded by hills ; the 
road generally winding through vallies, but sometimes 
passing over rough undulating grounds. I reached Sal- 
tie or Saltille, on the 3th. This place is thinly settled. 



432 MEMOIRS BY 

CHAP, and offered the first appearance of cultivation, but in mi- 
y^r>r^^^ serable style indeed, yet producing wh^at and Indian 
corn. Saltille is situate on the north-east side of a hill, 
and overlooks a beautiful and extensive plain, partially 
cultivated : it is something larger than Monte del Rey, 
and the style of building precisely the same. This place 
is remarkable for an annual fair, held in September, and 
established by custom of ancient date, at which the mer- 
chants, traders, mule-sellers, and a host of people from 
the city of Mexico and the southern and internal pro- 
vinces, assemble for the purposes of barter and sale : it 
is also the residence of the treasurer of the internal pro- 
vinces subject to Salcedo. Adjoined to Saltille is a large 
Indian town, the first I saw, the population of which is 
estimated at 40,000 souls. 

** This people enjoy a government independent of the 
officers of Saltille ; they choose their governor from their 
own body, subject to the approval of the sovereign, and 
select their magistrates without approval, who regulate 
all matters of police, and determine all civil controver- 
sies ; of their procedure in criminal cases, I could get no 
information : they have a protector appointed by govern- 
ment, whose duty it is to watch over their interests, and 
see that they are not abused by the officers of the pro- 
vince, r observed at this place an aqueduct well built 
of stone, which conducted a copious stream of water 
across a valley, for the supply of the town. 

« I pursued my journey on the 6th for the city of St. 
Louis Potosi, and reached it on the 13th, generally over 
a most wretched sterile country, presenting little else 
than s(unted palms and thorn, which did not affi)rd even 
a shade from the ardent rays of the sun. The road is 
good, over a surface rather flat; but it is very thinly set- 
tled, and gives very few instances of agriculture; I lay 
in the open air in this distance two nights out of seven. 
This city is spacious and well built of stone, seated on a 
plain, and garrisoned by a small body of regular troops, 
under the command of an inspector, with the rank of co- 
lonel; the population must be between fifty and sixty- 



GENERAL WILKINSON. 423 

thousand souls. On the evening of ray arrival, after I chap. 
had waited on the inspector, and received a new pass- ,^,,.^,^ 
port, an orderly sere:eant called on me to say, that a gen- 
tleman was setting out for the city of Mexico the next 
morning, and would he glad to accommodate me in his 
coach. In order to see and observe, it was necessary I 
should keep my horse, and therefore I declined the invi- 
tation, saying that I had a companion ; the sergeant re- 
quested me to be particular in my reply, as he said he 
had to <« report to his superior." Soon after this a very 
genteel man presented himself to me, renewed the offer 
which had been made through the sergeant, and proffer- 
ed a seat in his coach to my companion, young 

also, stating to me at the same time, that the route was 
a bad one, and that I should be saved great exposition 
and fatigue by accompanying him. Still desirous to avoid 
the carriage, I alleged that I had an interpreter with me; 
but he got over this difficulty by observing, he could make 
a cadet who accompanied him go on horseback, and then 
having no other shift, I was obliged to accept the propo- 
sition. Tliis was tlie friend of the inspector, and 

I clearly perceived was acting under his direction, but 
with what policy I could not divine. Thus I found my- 
self compelled by a feigned civility, to shut myself up iit 
a Spanisli coach drawn by seven mules, or to subject my- 
self to suspicions, which it was my business to avoid. I 

left St. Louis Potosi with , on tiie 14th, and readied 

St. Miguel le Grande on the irth. This city is situated 
on the acclivity of a steep hill, and might be rendered a 
formidable pass, but is without works or guards; the 
liouses of the officers and gentry, as well as the public 
buildings, are of stone, but the greater part are of indu- 
rated clay: this is a considerable place, but I had not an 
opportunity to form an idea of its population. I found 
my conductor to be a native of Spain, and a man of edu- 
cation and discernment ; but he did not offer a question 
or conjecture as to my business, nor did he drop a word 
respecting the politics of his country, until he reached 
Mexico. 



434 MEMOIRS BY 

CHAP. "We departed from St. Miguel the IStli, and reachetl 
y^^.^,^^^ the small town of St. Juan del Rio, the next day. This 
town is called after a river of the same name, on the right 
bank of which it is situate; it is a small stream, and was 
nearly dry when we crossed it, but I presume rises very 
much in the rainy season, from its having a high stone 
bridge thrown over it. I discerned nothing worthy of 
remark at this place, which we left on the 20th, in the 
morning, and passing severjal Indian villages, some of 
them of considerable extent, reached the capital on the 
morning of the 23d. 

« The country from St. Louis Potosi, through which, 
my route lay (I was told there were several others,) 
is generally smooth, but intersected by some hills and 
rough and rocky grounds. I noticed one remarkable 
defile, formed by a mountain on the right, and a preci- 
pice on the left, but I cannot recollect its locality. As 
we approached the city, cultivation appeared to improve; 
yet even adjoining to it, I discovered nothing which an 
American would naturally expect to find in the vicinity 
of a capital city, and the entire defect of timber through- 
out my whole route, left me at a loss to know how the 
inhabitants found wood for building or fuel. To my in- 
quiries on this subject, the reply was that timber for 
building was brought from the sides of the mountains. 

« On my arrival I put up at a hotel, and as soon as I 
had changed my dress, was conducted by the adjutant of 
the palace to the viceroy, to whom I was introduced at a 
public audience : he received me with much coolness and 
indifference, and had me informed immediately, that ho 
was engaged for two da}s, and when he wanted to sec 

me, would let me know. I was aware that and 

might have advised him of my approach, and the motives 
of my visit ; but I could not conjecture why ho should 
treat the information with such slight, and so very dif- 
ferently from those officers. On the third day afterwards 
I was sent for to attend the viceroy, and found him with 
an interpreter, and two other persons ; he received me 
politely but coldly, and with evident distrust, and with- 



GENERAL WILKINSON. 4^5 

out desiring any information from me, observed that he chap. 

had been advised before my arrival, of *s intended ^• 

expedition by-— — , and even by the gazettes of this city, 
which had preceded me three days, and intimated tliat 
my information could be of no consequence, but said that 
the intention appeared to be fair and honourable. Very 
few words passed, and I asked him to favour me with a 
passport, and to allow me to return by sea, to which he 
instantly assented as it appeared to me, without reflec- 
tion. On recurring to this scene, I can but suspect the 

information given by , was not of a nature to give 

alarm, and to this cause I impute the viceroy's " sang 
froid." 

" The route to Vera Cruz being well known, I had 
determined to return by land, on a road different from 
that by which I had travelled ', but my expenses had 
overrun my purse, and left me without the means to exe- 
cute this purpose. 

«' The next morning I received my passport, giving 

me leave to depart when I pleased. Tliis day , who 

had been very attentive to me, called and pressed me to 
accept his purse, which I rejected, telling him I had no 
occasion for it : with what view this was done I could 
not guess. 

« The evening after my last interview with the vice- 
roy, the -, for the first time, opened his lips on the 

object of my visit; he observed " he had heard the mo- 
tive of my journey had been to convey important intelli- 
gence to the viceroy; that he wished to avoid any ques- 
tion which might be improper, but requested me, if I 
could do it with propriety, to inform him whether 1 had 
given the names of any traitors in the country to the 
viceroy." My reply was that I had not. «« But perhaps 
you would have done so," replied he, « if the viceroy 
had behaved to you in a different manner?" 1 answered, 
** No, Sir, I would not. I did not come here to impli- 
cate any individual of this country, but to put the go- 
vernment on its guard against a lawless attack, by a 
banditti of my own countrymen." « But," said he, 
vol. I. 3 H 



426 MEMOIRS BY 

CHAP. « should the viceroy change his conduct towards yoM# 
^^^..^^l^ mi,c;ht you not be induced to give up their names?" I felt I 
some emotion and replied warmly, « No, if the viceroy l 
were to go on his knees, I would not give him a name.** 
I had marked his countenance, which was overcast with 
deep solicitude, but he now respired profoundly, his I 
countenance brightened, and he appeared greatly re- 
lieved. A moment after, he recollected that the post would 
go out in the morning, and requested my permission to 
write a line to a friend, which he did in my presence, | 
and shortly after withdrew. The next day he called ac- I 
cording to his usual custom, and after a few common ob- 
servations, turned the subject to the state of Europe and 
the situation of Spanish America; he observed that it did 
not appear possible to resist the gigantic power of France; 
acknowledged that Spain was in a state of complete vas- 
salage, but observed that the king was still on the throne, 
and tliat as a soldier and a Spaniard, he felt bound by the 
oath he had taken to obey him ; but, said he, << let Bona- 
parte once touch our king, and we shall then assume a 
different attitude," and expressed his belief that this 
must happen ; because, said he, " I cannot think Bona- 
parte will be perfectly satisfied while there remains a 
Bourbon on a throne." I replied, that it appeared to 
me, the difference between his present situation, and that ; 
which he very justly anticipated, was rather nominal 
than substantial ; to which he readily assented, but ob- 
served, " that names had weight in ail countries, and 
with almost all men." This gentleman appeared deeply 
interested by my visit, and prayed my correspondence. 
From a careful review of his whole conduct, 1 have little 
doubt some plan of revolt is thought of in the Mexican 
provinces, immediate or remote j and he was alarmed 
lest some circumstances of it should have transpired, 
which I had come to report to the viceroy. 

« The second day after I had received my passport, 
although it gave me leave to go when I pleased, the ad- 
jutant of the palace waited on me from the viceroy, to 
tell me I might *( leave the city as soo7i as I pleased." 



GENERAL WILKINSON. 427 

The hint was sufficient and I lost no time in taking the chap. 
road for Vera Cruz. ^• 

« From the city of Mexico you cross the plain about 
two and a half leagues to the eastward, when you begin to 
ascend that immense chain of rocky heights which sepa- 
rates it from the sea. The road through this broken, rough 
tract, has been highly finished by immense labour and 
expense, and we find every spot of arable ground in cul- 
tivation. At seventy-five miles from Mexico we entered 
Puebla, one of the most respectable cities of the king- 
dom. The population is estimated at eigiity thousand 
souls, and several manufactures arc pushed here with in- 
dustry, particularly in hardware, calicoes and cloths, but 
it is without fortifications. 

« Speaking of manufactures, it may not be uninterest- 
ing to remark in this place, that from Monte del Key 
through the whole country which I passed, I observed 
the women engaged in domestic manufactures of wool 
and cotton, from whence and from the clothing of the in- 
habitants, I infer that the much greater part of it is pro- 
vided in this way. 

« From Puebla to Xalappa the distance is sixty-six 
miles, and the country continues to rise until you get 
within 25 or SO miles of the last place, when you begin 
to descend. In this distance we pass Perotte, a small 
town of little importance, where the road branches in 
going to Mexico ; near this place, in a plain, stands a 
quadrangular work with a garrison of regular troops, in 
which the treasure destined for exportation is deposited, 
a precaution against the insecurity of Vera Cruz; the 
city of Xalappa stands on the summit of a hill, it is re- 
spectable in size and well built of stone, but its chief im- 
portance is as a summer retreat from Vera Cruz; here I 
found a body of troops quartered, consisting of flying ar- 
tillery, cavalry, and infantry, said to be six thousand in 
number. I remained at this place two nights and a day, 
and spent the time altogether, in company with the public 
officers civil and military, with whom I had much inte- 
resting conversation, which excited great surprise ; you 



1^8 MEMOIRS BY 

CHAP, may form some idea of it, when I assure you that in a 
large circle of oflScers, civil and military, some of them 
of high rank, the srntiments I had heard in Mexico, 
were sported to an extent, and with a degree of boldness 
which astonished me, an officer of rank being present 
who liad spent some time in the United States ; on one 
hand, our government furnished a theme of admiration, 
with all who could speak to my understanding, and on 
the other the tyranny of Bonaparte was reprobated. 
They expressed tlieir apprehensions, that he would ex- 
tend his dominion over all Europe, in which case they 
avowed their determination to declare for independence, 
and seek the alliance of the United States. They ac- 
knowledged frankly and with strong sensibility, that 
they knew all their treasures went into his coffers, and 
served to assist him in establishing his project of univer- 
sal despotism; from whatever I could discern in the man- 
ner of the company, I believe it was pervaded by one 
sentiment, and I could but remark, that the intimate 

friend of , with whom 1 dined in Mexico, preceded 

me at Xalappa, and waited on me soon after I alighted 
from my carriage ; at this place all your proceedings in 
this city were publicly known, but no idea of apprehen- 
sion seemed to be entertained, either of or of any 

foreign power. 

** 1 left Xalappa on the 4th and reached Vera Cruz on 
the 5th, descending and passing over rugged, rocky 
grounds, until I reached the river Antigua, five leagues 
from Vera Cruz, which I crossed at the site of old Vera 
Cruz, from whence the road is flat and sandy, bordering 
on the sea shore for four or five miles of the distance. 

« On reachivig Vera Cruz I waited on the Governor, 
and found orders had preceded me, to put me on board 
the first vessel, or if none was ready to order me back to 
Xalappa ; a very small and indifferent schooner wa5 
about to sail, and I was ordered on board or to return to 
Xalappa; a strong north-east wind however came on and 
lasted five days, at the end of which I determined to take 



GENERAL WILKINSON. 429 

my chance on board the little vessel, and accordingly em- chap. 
barked for this city. ^ 

«* The city, harbour, and defences of Vera Cruz, are 
too well known, to render any description I could give 
desirable. I will barely observe, that the harbour is an 
exposed road-stead, and that during the autumn and win- 
ter months, the north winds are strong and the coast ex- 
tremely dangerous, and during the spring and summer 
months the climate is destructive to our constitutions. 
The sum of my reflections on what I have seen, applica- 
ble to military views are, that either to conquer or to res- 
cue the Mexicans, the route by Grande river and Monte 
del Rey is the most favourable, and that any attempt by 
Vera Cruz will be found impracticable ; for supposing 
that city to be carried, the country behind can be defend- 
ed by a small corps, against any body of men who may 
be brought to attack it ; besides, were the attempt practi- 
cable, the operations must be protracted, and the dis- 
eases of the climate would destroy any European or 
American army, without the aid of the sword. But once 
at Monte del Rey, you find yourself in a high, healthy 
country, abounding with horses and provisions, with 
your rear safe and open for reinforcements or retreat; 
from this point it will require a few days march only, to 
cut off the intercourse and a junction of force, between 
the interior and the southern provinces, and you may 
;i then either fight or retreat with advantage. But the 
idea that the country is to be overrun by a handful of 
men is absurd, the extent of the route and of the popula- 
' tion, would oppose insuperable obstacles to such an at- 
tempt, and no calculation can be made on the revolt of 
the inhabitants, unh'ss they are invaded by a force siifB- 
r.cient, either to reduce or to protect them against the re- 
' gular military, which I have reason to believe has been, 
' or soon will be, increased to twenty thousand men. It is 
• certain, that although they have some European officers 
I of experience, the number is very small, and that in ge- 
! neral they are unlettered and ignorant, but it is equally 



4)30 MEMOIRS BY 

CHAP, true that the natives are hardy robust fellows, and furnish 
good st«iff for soldiers. 

" Without descending to minutiae on a subject which is 
familiar to you, I will just observe, that any army ope- 
rating against the Mexican provinces, should be liberally 
provided with flying artillery, and should be composed 
one-fifth of cavalry.'* 

JVotes of the route from JVacogdoches to the city of Mexico, 
and from thence to Vera Cru%, 

<« From Nacogdoches to the river Trinity, I call the 
distance one hundred miles. At this place the Spaniards 
have a lieutenant and eight or ten men. The ford of the 
river is a good one. 

« From the Trinity to the river Brassos seventy miles, 
which is also fordable, and the right bank elevated. 

«< From the Brassos to the Colorado sixty miles, where 
we have a good ford. 

« From the Colorado to the river St. Marc, I think it 
is about sixty miles ; a rapid current and rocky bottom, 
but fordable without much difliculty. 

<« From St Marc to the river Guadaloupe, I compute 
the distance to be sixty miles, and the ford is plain and 
easy. Here the road branches, the left leading to La 
Bahia, and the right to the city of St. Antonio. 

« From the Gaudaloupe to the town of La Bahia, 
standing on the right bank of the river St. Antonio, the 
distance is twenty -four miles; this river is also fordable. 

« From La Bahia to the city of St. Antonio, seventy- 
five miles; and from St. Antonio to Larredo, on the left 
bank of the Rio Grande, one hundred and twenty miles. 
I passed perforce by St. Antonio, which place I visited 
from La Bahia; therefore the seventy-five nkiles between 
those places and the difference of the routes, which 1 do 
not understand, must he deducted to give the nearest 
distance from Nacogdoches to Rio Grande. This river, 
where I crossed it, is not more than two hundred and 



GENERAL WILKINSON. 431 

fifty yards wide, but it was not fordable at that time, and chap. 
I doubt whether it ever is. ^ 

«< From the Rio Grande I passed three inconsiderable 
Tillages to the city of Monte del Rey, which I call one 
hundred and fifty miles ; making a distance, by my esti- 
mate, of six hundred and ninety-nine miles ; from which 
the preceding deductions being made, the distance will be 
found less than six hundi-ed miles, which, though much 
shorter than that generally computed, will, I think, be 
equal to the true one. 

« In the whole of this route we found no obstacle to the 
march of an army excepting the Rio Grande, which must 
be bridged, boated or rafted, and an island in the middle 
aflTords facility to the traverse. 

<* From Nacogdoches to the Trinity, we have a forest 
interspersed with some considerable prairies. From the 
Trinity to Rio Grande continued prairies, high and firm, 
with a wavy surface, interspersed with groves and 
clumps. From Rio Grande to Monte del Rey you pro- 
ceed over the same kind of surface, until you approach 
within thirty miles of that city, where the ground be- 
comes hilly and a little broken, but naked and with some 
stone. There are three roads from Rio Grande to Monte 
del Rey, differing in length, but all easy and without ob- 
structions. 

« From Monte del Rey to Saltie, or Saltille, the dis- 
tance is fifty miles; the road stony and rough, and in 
several places commanded by heights. 

« From Saltie to St. Louis Potosi, the distance is about 
two hundred miles; the road is good, but passes over 
uneven ground, from whence you have mountains conti- 
nually in prospect. 

«« From St. Louis Potosi to St. Miguel le Grande, the 
distance is one hundred and ten miles; the road good, 
and passing over several extensive plains partly culti- 
vated. 

" From St. Miguel le Grande to St. Juan del Bio, the 
distance is seventy miles, and the road generally good. 



4,32 MEMOIRS BY 

CHAP, <« From St. Juan del Rio to the city of Mexico, passing 
J^ a number of considerable Indian villages, whose names 
I do not recollect, the distance is one hundred and ten 
miles, over a spacious and fine road. 

« From the city of Mexico the route to Vera Cruz is 
so well known, and having myself travelled most of the 
way in a coach, and being obliged to observe great cir. 
cumspection, I fear I can give you no new light on the 
subject; but I will offer the substance of my recollection. 
From Mexico to Puebla, the distance is seventy-five 
miles ; the road superb, but ascending from the vicinity 
of the city, and the surface of the country generally 
rocky. From Puebla, passing through Perotte to Xa- 
lappa, the distance is sixty-six miles; the road and face 
of the country nearly the same. 

*< In this distance we ascend to the height of the land, 
and descend twenty-five or thirty miles to Xalappa. 

<« From Xalappa to Vera Cruz, the distance is about 
fifty miles, a continued descent, most of the way over a 
rough and rocky surface : in the distance you pass a 
handsome river, about 180 yards wide, but fordable, 
with a village on its left bank on the site of the ancient 
Vera Cruz; both the village and river called Antigua.'* 



GENERAL WILKINSON. 433 



CHAPTER XI. 

Equivocal conduct of Spain, respecting line of limits, in chap. 
1797. — American posts on the Mississippi reinforced.—^ v..-r-vr^ 
General Wilkinson descends the river with a detachment 
in the spring of ±798. — Difficulties removed and the com- 
missioners proceed to mark the line. — Tie takes post at 
Loftus^s Heights. — Is ordered to JYew Fork in the spring 
of 1799, btj Major-general Hamilton. — Arrives there the 

1st of Jiugust. — His conference with General Hamilton ■ 

Anecdote of the General and Colonel Burr. — Submits a 
memoir to the General, embracing the force and the dis- 
position of the old troops of the United States, with the 
occupancies of the contiguous foreign powers, on the 
northern, western, and southern frontiers; and compre- 
hending a variety of facts and reflections, military and 
political, respecting the St. Lawrence, the lakes and the 
Mississippi. — Visits Boston and returns. — His memoir 
approved by General Washington, and measures taken to 
carry it into effect. — Accommodation of differences with 
France, and reduction cf the army. — Dr. George Logan 
visits France. — The effects of this visit. — Different views 
of General Hamg,lton*s character. — Motives of his political 
conduct explained. — A glance at Mr. Madison's conduct 
in the federal convention. — Comparison between him and 
Gen. Hamilton. — Gen. Wilkinson* s persecutions in 1810 
and 181 1. — Ordered to J^ew Orleans in 1812. — Conduct of 
Great Britain and Bonaparte to the United States — The 
effects of war. — Observations thereon. — The federal go- 
vernment not adapted to a state of war. — John Henry's 
explosion. — Reflections thereon.*-— Conversation with the 
secretary of war, Dr. Eustis, respecting war. — Motives 
for purchasing Henrifs breach of trust. — Conduct of the 
oppositio7iists in Massachusetts to the measures of govern- 
ment condemned. — Opinion of the yeomanry of J^Tew 
England. — General Wilkinson determines to call the at- 
tention of the executive to the defensive jirotcction ofJ\'*ew 
Orleans. — Receives a letter from the secretary of war, and 
VOL. I. 3 1 



43^) MEMOIRS BY 

submits a niemcir to him. — Orders received^ aiid corres- 
pondence which erisiied. — Lays his memoir before the Hon. 
Colonel Johnson and Henry Clay, esquire^ of Congress. — -| 
liefections thereon, and the effects produced. 

CHAP. j^ ^],g spiing of 1797, the equivocal conduct of the 

^,^-v^,^^ Spanish authorities of Louisiana in relation to the treaty 
of limits, &r. induced me to reinforce our military posts 
on the Mississippi ; and for this service I selected Cap- 
tain Isaac Guion, an officer of tried confidence and ap- 
proved intelligence, who had served with General Mont- 
gomery before Quebec, and possessed great energy of 
character. The discussions which ensued, and the pre- 
texts urged by the Spaniards for delaying the line of de- 
marcation, conspiring with other circumstances which 
had come to the knowledge of the American government, 
produced suspicions of a meditated infraction of the treaty 
on the part of Spain; in consequence of which I was or- 
dered from Pittsburgh in tlie spring of 1798, to descend 
the waters to our western frontier, with a respectable 
force ; having by order of the executive previously ad- 
dressed a frank and firm remonstrance to the Spanish 
governor Gayoso, on the subject, which it would seem 
produced the desired effect; for on my arrival in the low 
country, I found the commissioners were proceeding ami- 
cably on the survey of the line of limits. I am sorry my 
peculiar situation should prevent my dilating on this 
topic in these memoirs, but I will refer the reader to the 
second volume, for several Interesting particulars touch- 
ing the subject. 

I found our advanced post at Natchez, which I imme- 
diately removed, and sat down at Loftus's Heights, with 
my whole force, tliat being tlie most southerly tenable po- 
sition within our limits on the bank of the Mississippi, 
about six miles north of ti)e Slst degree of North lati- 
tude. >Yhilst engaged at this point, preparing quarters 
for the troops, and erecting batteries to command the 
river, I received the following letter from Major-general 
Hamilton. 



GENERAL WILKINSON. 435 

« mw York, Feb. 12th, 1 799. CHAP. 



" Sir, 

" The interesting incidents which have latterly occur- 
red in our political situation, having rendered it expe- 
dient to enlarge the spliere of our military arrangements, 
it has in consequence become necessary to regulate the su- 
perintendence of our military force in its various and de- 
tached positions, in such a manner as while it will serve 
to dishurthen the department of war, nf details incompa- 
tible with its more general and more important occupations, 
will likewise conduce to uniformity and system in the 
different branches of tlie service. 

"The commander in chief having for the present de- 
clined actual command, it has been detcrmiticd, in pur- 
suance of the above views, to place the military force 
every where, under the superintendence of Major-general 
Pinckuey and myself. In the allotment for this purpose, 
ray agency is extended to the garrisons on the western 
lakes, and to all the troops in the north western territory, 
including both banks of the Ohio, and upon the Missis- 
sippi ; in short to all the western array, exce])t the parts 
which may be in the states of Tennessee and Kentucky. 
Of this you will have been informed by the secretary of 
war. 

" From the relation which is thus constituted between 
us, I allow myself to anticipate great mutual satisfaction. 
Every disposition on my part will certainly facilitate it, 
and tend to promote the discharge of your trust, in the 
manner best adapted to your honour and the advance- 
ment of the service. 

" It was the united opinion of the commander in cliief,* 
General Pinckney and myself, when lately convened at 
Philadelphia, that your speedy presence in this quarter 
was necessary, towards a full discussion of the aftairs of 
Jhc scene, in which you have so long had the direction in 
their various relations, and towards the formation, with 
fhe aid of your lights, of a more perfect plan for present 

* General Wusiiinrrton, 



X; 



436 MEMOIRS BY 

CHAP, and eventual arrangements. Much may be examined in 



xr 



a personal interview, which at so great a distance can- 
not be effected by writing. The actual and probable 
situation of our public affairs, in reference to foreign 
powers, renders this step indispensable. You will there- 
fore be pleased, with all practicable expedition, to repair 
to Philadelphia j upon your arrival there giving me im- 
mediate advice of it. If this can be most conveniently 
accomplished by way of New Orleans, you are at liberty 
to take that route. On this point you are the best judge, 
and will no doubt act with circumspection. 

" It must rest with you to dispose of the command of 
the troops at the different stations, during your absence, 
and to give the proper instructions in conformity with 
those which have been received from the secretary of 
war. On this head only on& remark will be made. The 
confidence in your judgment has probably led to the re- 
posing in your discretion, powers too delicate to be in- 
trusted to an officer less tried ; capable perhaps of being 
so nsed as to commit prematurely the peace of the United 
States. Discretions of this tendency ought not to be trans- ' 
ferred, beyond what may be indispensable for defensive 
security. Care must be taken that the nation be not em- 
broiled, but in consequence of a deliberate policy in the 
government. 

« OfHcial letters from you to mc, as you have been ap- 
prised by the secretary at war, are to be forwarded 
through him; they must be open and under cover. The 
design of this is, that he may have an opportunity, in 
cases of great urgency, which could not conveniently 
wait for my direction, to interpose with the requisite 
measures. In your absence, it will be proper that tbc 
officer or officers you may substitute in the command, 
should communicate with you; also transmitting their 
letters open under cover to the secretary at war. Thy^ 
will presei"ve unbroken the chain of your command. • 

*( With great consideration, &c. &c. 
(Signed) « A. HAMILTON 

« Bngadier 'general TVilkinson." 



GENERAL WILKINSON. 4^37 

The liberal perspicuous tenor of this letter,* so unlike chap 
the official correspondence to which I had been accus- ^^^.^,,„^ 
tome<l, excited my admiration and flattered my self love. 
1 had been personally, not intimately, acquainted with 
General Hamilton in the course of the revolutionary war; 
I had commanded him, and was now to receive orders 
from him ; I felt a twinge of repugnance, but it was mo-- 
mentary ; the corps I had commanded was a mere ske- 
leton, which the government had thought proper to aug- 
ment and organise anew, under the national chief, and 
although not promoted, my command was increased and 
my authority extended. My military pride, however 
sensible, (and there can be no soldier without it) could 
not on cool deliberation find an exception to the elevation 
of gentlemen with whose political characters and merits, 
it would have been the extreme of vanity in me to pre- 
tend to enter into a competition, and whose association I 
was sensible would add to the weight and importance of 
my profession. 

Pursuant to the orders of General Hamilton I proceed- 
ed by New Orleans and after some delay there obtained 
a passage direct to New York, where 1 arrived the 1st of 
August; I immediately called on the General and left my 
card : he returned my visit the next morning, and at our 
meeting shewed some sensibility, for which I respected 
his heart, and remunerated him without loss of time, by 
observing to him, "that considering my superior rank 
during the revolution, and my subsequent military ser- 
vices, it might be presumed there would be some opposi- 
tion to his command in my mind; but that however tena^ 
cious of rank, whatever might be my professional pride, 
and I acknowledged an ample share of it, I should be vain 
and weak indeed, did I oppose my pretensions or my 



• I mean neither offence nor indelicacy, when I recommend it to 
the attention of the secretary of war, for an example of principle and 
consistency, on which the charms and interests of the profession de- 
pends, long since abolished by his predecessors, who with bloated 
pretensions possessed little knowledge of the duties of their stations. 



438 MEMOIRS BY 

CHAP, talents to his, tliat I believed the course he had run, and 
the services he had rendered, gave him a title to the ap- 
pointment he had received, and that I should take his 
orders with satisfaction;" he was affected, and laying his 
right hand on his breast replied, " upon my word, Gene- 
ral Wilkinson, I admire this frankness, and shall not 
sliew myself unworthy of the example ; I have not expe- 
rienced the same obliji;ing concession from other quar- 
ters ;" he was proceeding, when a messenger required 
his presence in court, which was tJien sitting; and having 
appointed the next afternoon for an interview, we parted. 
I waited on the General agreeably to appointment, and 
oi)cned the conversation by observing, *» that in obe- 
dience to his order of the 12th February, I presented 
myself to receive his commands, but before entering on 
business, I considered it a matter of propriety towards 
him and of duty to myself, to remark, that my ignorance 
of his personal sentiments, and my knowledge of the se- 
cret slanders by which, I had been assailed during his 
administration of the treasury department, enjoined the 
utmost circumspection on my part ; I therefore begged 
leave to premise, that should the objects for which I had 
been recalled from the Mississippi require formal reports, 
I hoped he would apprise me, whether I should confine 
myself to strict official forms, or might add such political 
facts and reflections as appeared to me essential to his in- 
formation. That in the last case relying on his confi- 
dence, I should bare my bosom to him, and that in the 
first he would find me dumb to all but specific objects of 
professional duty ;" he answered, " I have no objection 
General Wilkinson to indulge your desire, nor will I he- 
sitate to toll you, Sir, that T sent for you, to borrow the 
information whicli 1 have in vain sought for elsewhere; 
estranged from military pursuits, since the revolution, 
my faculties have bet-ji directed to different objects; you 
know how easy it is for a soldier to forget the mechani- 
cal parts of his profession, which is my c?se ; I have 
grown rusty in military affairs, and have in reality for- 
gotten much of v/liat I learnt in the war of the rcvolu 



GENERAL WILKINSON. 4,39 

tion, and wish to avail myself of your knowledge ; you chap. 
therefore cannot be too diffuse in your communications ; ^* 
I am not a man of professions, but on a further acquaint- 
ance, I think, you will find something here, (laying his 
hand on his breast) trustworthy 5 in the mean time, I will 
barely say« that whenever you desire confidence you have 
only (o intimate it." A long desultory conversation en- 
sued, chiefly respecting our south-western country, of 
which he appeared to have formed a just estimate, re- 
marking it was « a treasure worth cherishing;" at taking 
leave, I observed to him, « well, Sir, having fatigued you 
with my prattle, I now propose to visit an old friend 
whom I have not seen for several years, I know you are 
twain in politics, but I hope there is no disagreement be- 
tween yon, wliich might render the renewal of my ac- 
quaintance with him indecorous to my superior officer j" 
he asked me if it was " Lamb," meaning Colonel Lamb, 
I replied in the negative, and named Colonel Burr. 
« Little Burr," said he, « Oh no, we have always been 
opposed in politics but always on good terms, we sat out 
in the practice of the law at the same time, and took op- 
posite political directions. Burr beckoned me to follow 
hira, and I advised him to come with mc ; we could not 
agree, but I fancy he now begins to think he was wrong 
and I was right." What an instructive lesson followed; 
from the active command of an army, believed to be as 
firmly entailed on the country, as the present surrepti- 
tious establishment of President Madison, we beheld Ge- 
neral Hamilton reduced to the ranks of private life, and 
Colonel Burr elevated to the second place in the go- 
vernment. We then parted, I visited my friend, and 
tlie next day I received the following note, in conse- 
quence of which I prepared the annexed report, with 
the references, and I regret they should be too volu- 
minous for insertion in these memoirs, as they contain 
much interesting information, respecting the interior of 
the United States. 



MO MEMOIRS BY 

CHAP. 

XI- « JVew Fork, Aug. 3d, 1799. 

'< General Uainilton presents his compliments to Gene- 
ral Wilkinson, and sends him at foot, heads for conver- 
sation which it is proposed to have ; in order to call the 
attention of General Wilkinson to the general points ; 
most of them have rio doubt been topics of communication 
with the war department, but the freedom and particu- 
larity of conversation, will yield additional light and lead 
perhaps to a correct system, for the management of our 
western affairs in their various relations. 

*< OBJECTS. 

(( 1st. — The disposition of our westei-n inhabitants to- 
wards the United States and foreign powers. 

(( 2c!. — The disposition of the Indians in the same 
aspects. 

it 3(1. — The disposition of the Spaniards in our vicini- 
ty ; their strength in number and fortifications. 

<«4th. — The best expedients for correcting and con- 
trolling hostile tendencies in any or all these quarters, 
including 

<< 5th. — The best defensive disposition of the western 
army, embracing the country of Tennessee and the north 
and western lakes, and having an eye to economy and 
discipline. 

t< 6th. — The best mode (in the event of a rupture with 
Spain) of attacking the two Floridas ; the troops, artil- 
lery, &c. requisite. 

<* 7th. — The best plan for supplying the western army 
with provisions, transportation of forage, &c. 

« 8th. — The best arrangement of command, so as to 
unite facility of communication with the sea board, and 
the proper combination of all the parts, under the general 
commanding the western army." 

« JVew York, Sept. 4th, 1799. 
« Sir, 

<« I have the honour to submit to your consideration, a 
rough delineation of the maritime coast of the United 



GENERAL WILKINSON. 44,1 

States, and those parts of the interior of our country, chap. 
which lie contiguous to the dominions of Great Britain ^^* 
and of Spain, as far north as the « Saut de St. Marie;" vvitli 
the intention to exhibit to you at one view, the military 
posts occupied at this time by the several powers, and 
such as have been heretofore occupied and abandoned by 
our troops ; to which I have added projections of other 
posts, recommended to our occupancy by sound policy ; 
with this memoir you will also receive sundry documents, 
marked from 1 to 9, to which I shall find it necessary to 
have reference. 

« In the exposition of the opinions and facts which I 
am about to render to you, I shall avail myself of the 
latitude you have allowed me, and banisliing reserve will 
repose on your liberality for indulgence to incidental er- 
rors, and a candid interpretation of my views. Should 
my language appear either confident or imperative, I 
pray you to impute it to my desire to avoid prolixity, on 
a subject necessarily complex, and to acquit me of any 
indecorous propensity. 

« When we survey the geographical position, investi- 
gate the local circumstances, and cast an eye to the agri- 
cultural improvements of the United States ; the extent 
and the direction of the magnificent waters of the St. 
Lawrence and Mississippi, will not escape the attention 
of the intelligent, nor fail to excite the solicitudes of every 
sound American breast, for our future relations with the 
countries which thus embrace our interior frontier. 

«< Those immense rivers together with the infinity of 
their tributary streams, traverse almost every variety of 
climate, circumscribe our most valuable domains, embrace 
our whole interior population, and open avenues to the 
heart of our country, through which (in the present state 
of national supineness) we are liable to be successfully at- 
tacked by an inconsiderable force. 

<* An attempt to dispossess a respectable enemy, once 
in possession of our western or northern frontier, will be 
found expensive beyond calculation, difficult in the ex- 
voL. L 3 K 



14S MEMOIRS BY 

CHAP, treme and at best of doubtful issue; for wbile he may de- 
^^ rive powerful aid from the unconquerable animosities of 
the savages, and the versatility of our own errattics, we 
shall be exposed to the solid obstructions and impedi- 
ments, which arise from the distance of our resources 
and the difficulties of the route; to wait for events, will 
put it out of our power to guard against them, we should 
tlierefore anticipate probabilities at least, and determine 
to erect substantial barriers, against those dangerous 
portals which open the way directly to our most vulne- 
rable parts. To this end we should augment our force 
on the Mississippi and the lakes, we should condense 
that which is now there, and occupy the most critical and 
commanding passes by durable works judiciously con- 
structed. 

'< "We at present hold several useless military stations 
on the north-western frontier, merely to awe, to conciliate 
and to watch the Indians, or to aid the transport of pub- 
lic stores in their progress to posts more remote. Such 
are Oswego, Presqu* isle. Fort Fayette, Fort Washing- 
ton, Fort Wayne, and Fort Knox, these? should be broken 
up anvi the troops incorporated, for by such fritterings, 
we destroy the usefulness of both officier and soldier, and 
expose ourselves always to be beaten in detail; should 
the discontents and the clamours of our transmontane 
settlers be ofF«red in opposition to this proposition, I an- 
swer, that while we command tl»e house, we shall be able 
to govern the liousehold, and therefore the hostility of 
the Indians within our cordon, who are dependent on us 
for even the implements of war, cannot eventuate in any 
thing serious ; and as to those posts which protect the 
transport of the public property, they are embosomed in 
strong settlements, which can certainly extend the same 
security to the national interests, as to those of indivi- 
duals ; it is therefore presumed that suitable agents in 
charge of the public property, will suffice for every object 
of safety and utility at such points. 

« Tlie notes attached to the garrisons enumerated in 
the proposed disposition No. 1, yvill exhibit, in brief, the 



GENERAL WILKINSON. 443 

motives which have directed the distribution, and parti- chap. 
cular stations of the troops therein referred to; but as I ^^' 
deem it highly necessary, strong works should be erected 
near the head of the straits, which lead from Lake Huron 
and from Lake Erie, it is proper I should assign my rea- 
sons for this opinion. 

" It is presumed the British government will never 
again attempt to try the strength of our country on the 
Atlantic quarter, by an invasion from the northward; but 
it is possible, that a state of things may occur, to invite 
a re-possrssion, and even the extension of their former 
occupancies to the northward and westward ; in such 
case she must commence her operations from Montreal, 
and may approach us by the direct route of Cataraqui, or 
by what is called the back route of Grand river and 
French river, into Lake Huron, or by both at the same 
time. 

« The site which I recommend for a post at the bottom 
of Lake Erie, was pointed out to me by Macniff, for- 
merly an engineer in the British service, who represent- 
ed the ground to be well adapted to fortification, with the 
advantage of a good harbour and safe anchorage; which 
is not I understand to be found elsewhere in that neigh- 
bourhood ; he added, that immediately anterior to Mr. 
Jay's treaty. Lord Dorchester had determined to erect a 
fortification on that spot,* which I am informed, will 
overlook Fort Erie and command the mouth of the strait; 
in case of hostilities it will leave no harbour for the ves- 
sels of the enemy, on Lake Erie in that vicinity, and at 
the same time will afford protection to our own ; it will 
form a second barrier, and preserve the communication 
with Pennsylvania; and it will oppose additional obsta- 
cles to the advance of an enemy, by the Cataraqui and 
Lake Ontario ; considered in this view, merely to the de- 
fence of the country, I conceive the subject worthy of ex- 
amination ; but viewed irrelatively to military purposes, 
it will not I believe be found undeserving of attention^ 

* Black Rock. 



414 MEMOIRS BY 

CHAP For at the present time, the want of a road within our 
^^' own limits, and a place of deposit near Lake Erie, 
obliges us to carry our stores and merchandise public and 
private, through the British dominions from Newark to 
Chippeway creek by land, and from the last place to Fort 
Erie in batteaux, winch involves much delay and expense, 
and exposes our citizens to undue constraints and impo- 
sitions. Old Fort Schlosscr, erected anterior to the revo- 
lution and long since in a state of decay, was occupied 
under my orders in 1707 5 but the rapidity of the current 
of that point, forbidding the approach of vessels of bur- 
then, and the ascent of the stream being found difficult to 
batteaux, the small garrison was withdrawn. These dif- 
ficulties and disadvantages will all be removed, by the 
establishment proposed at tlie head of the strait, as the 
ground from thence to Niagara, is I am assured suscep- 
tible of a good road, 

*' If in our course we examine the position of Presqu' 
isle, it will be found, that it can have no controul over the 
navigation of Lake Erie,- the present work is injudicious- 
ly posted, and consists merely of blockhouses connected 
by ranges of pickets. The site presents no critical spot 
for occupancy, the surface towards tlie country being a 
plain. Six and a half feet water only can be carried into 
th^ harbour. The settlements around it are considerable, 
and are progressing rapidly. It cannot be possessed by 
an enemy before the posts in advance are carried, and, 
on an exigency, in twelve days notice four thousand men 
may be assembled there with arms, from the state of 
Pennsylvania, under these circumstances, I have recom- 
mended the removal of the garrison. 

« From this point, passing Detroit, we will proceed to 
the head of the strait leading from Lake Huron, where a 
post, in case of hostility with Great Britain, will be found 
indispensable, to cut oft' the communication to and from 
that lake, with the British settlements below. The na- 
ture of the ground and the narrowness of the pass, will 
enable us to do this effectually, and by such an establish- 
ment we guard against a coup dc main by French river. 



GENERAL WILKINSON. 445 

Which is very practicable in birch canoes. No. 2 covers chap. 
a particular sketch of the spot* to be occupie<l, taken by ^^• 
me in 1797, and this post becomes the more indispensa- 
ble, because Detroit, althougli proper for a place of arms,' 
and of general depot, to keep the Indians in check and 
to cover the settlements in the vicinity, does not command 
the strait, which, opposite to the fort, is a mile wide and 
the main channel running close under the British shore, 
"Whenever it may be found expedient to shut out the Bri- 
tish from Lake Superior, a post must be established at 
the Saut de St. Marie,f which may be conveniently done 
from Mackinac, in vessels drawing seven feet water, or 
by batteaux and birch canoes. 

«' As this chain of posts may effectually exclude all fo- 
reign intercourse (from the northward) with our citizens 
and our savages, which we are not disposed to permit; 
as it may eflfectually bar all communication between Ca- 
nada and Louisiana, at our will ; and cannot be forced 
but by a regular attack, which, with tolerable vigilance 
in the government, we shall always be able to anticipate 
witli superior force. I consider the positions well adapt- 
ed, and the force assigned, in our present relations with 
Great Britain, competent to evei'y object of national se- 
curity ,':j: it is, however, my decided opinion, that the height 
tvhich looks into the present works of Michilimackinac 
should be occupied by a small but strong regular xvork, and 

* It is a fact, that no attention was paid to this place until the year 
1813, in consequence of which and the loss of Michilimackinac, the 
British held the Indians living on the waters of Lakes Huron, Michi- 
gan and Superior at their devotion. 

t To this proposition no respect has been paid to this day, al- 
though I have urged it again and again, and a post there would give 
us power to controul the North West Company and to lock up the 
Chippaways in Lake Superior; yet we can spend hundreds of thou- 
sands in Mediterranean speculations, in foreign intercourses and mi- 
litary sinecures. 

+ And yet with a transcript of this memoir in the war department, 
from the year 1802, not a single step was taken on this recommenda- 
tion ; and with a pre-determination to make war, Mr. President Ma. 
dison contrived to sacrifice this important post (Michilimackinac") to 
the enemy's puny garrison of Fort St. Joseph. 



446 MEMOIRS BY 

CHAP, the garrison transferred to it. This precaution with proper 
^ ■ endowments, will enable 250 men to defend the place, against 
any force which can he brought against it, such are the 06- 
"stacles in the approach to it, the difficulty of finding subsist- 
ence there, and the shortness of the season for operations ^ 
combined to these preparations we must have a navy for 
Lake Erie, to bear some proportion to that of the enemy. 

« In this place perhaps it may he most proper to call 
ypur attention to the state of our ordnance at the several 
frontier posts. The return under cover No. 3, will exhi- 
bit our whole artillery, with their appurtenances, at every 
post except Mackinac and Niagara ; and in No. i, you 
have a brief abstract of the cannon and howitzers at 
each post, to which I have annexed an estimate of the 
additional pieces, indispensable to the safety of our forti- 
fications and the honour of our arms ; on this subject it 
would be presumptuous in me to address you in detail, as 
your peculiar intimacy with this branch of service, will 
best enable you to form the proper conclusions; it may 
however be proper for me to inform you, that although I 
have no return from Mackinac, 1 believe the heaviest metal 
there, are brass 6 pounders and 5-^ inch howitzers, look. 
Sir, at the endowment of Fort Lernault, (at Detroit) a 
work of some regularity, and you will find our field ar- 
tillery sadly misapplied. It may be material also to add, 
that shot and shells of any diameter and in any quantity, 
can be had from the furnaces on the Monongahela, well 
executed under the direction of Major Craig of Pitts- 
burgh, for less than 6 cents per pound. The mass which 
you will find reported on tiie Mississippi, was cast there 
in the spring of 1798 by my orders. On this subject I 
have written, urged, and entreated again and again, and 
for fear it should be forgotten, I send you under cover 
No. 5, the transcript of a requisition made in February 
or March, 179S, which has not been attended to in any 
respect. The artillery for the lakes, may I presume be 
most promptly and economically transported from this 
place, by the Moliawk river and Fort Schuyler in the 
proper season, and that for the Mississippi in the present 



GENERAL WILKINSON. 4^y 

moment, may with facility and very light expense, be chap. 
safely sent forward by the city of New Orleans; with ^^ 
submission I will ask, should this moment be lost ? 

« The quantum and disposition of our force on the Mis- 
sissippi and the southern frontier, are subjects which in 
the existing state of things, have claim to prompt delibe- 
ration and decisive action ; the present calm in that quar- 
ter may prove a deceitful one, and if the storm should 
take us unprepared, sad scenes may ensue. The hand- 
ful of men now on that station, would make but feeble 
resistance, even against the enthusiastic yeomanry of 
Louisiana, once put in motion. It appears rational and 
necessary that we should determine, eitlier to defend the 
country or to abandon it ; in the first case the means 
should be correspondent, and in the last case the troops 
now there should be withdrawn ; for in the present state 
of hands, the game on our part may soon become a des- 
perate one. The imbecility of the Spanish government 
on the Mississippi, is as manifest as the ardour of the 
gallant Louisianians is obvious. A single individual of 
hardy enterprize, presenting himself with directorial cre- 
dentials, and hoisting the national standard at New Or- 
leans, miglit depose the Spanish administration in one 
hour, and have the population of the country at his dis- 
posal for any chivalrous enterprize. Under such cir- 
cumstances, will it be indecorous should I express my 
apprehensions, that we repose in false security, and that 
if we are not seasonably aroused, the dismemberment of 
the union may be put to hazard ? 

" Whoever consults the passions and interests of the hu- 
man breast, and is acquainted with the geography of the 
country, will discover that the nation which holds the ar- 
bitrary controul of the navigation of the Mississippi, must 
eventually direct the politics of the western Americans; 
and it is equally obvious to all, who are acquainted with 
the habits and relative interests of the citizens, and the 
Indians of the United States, that the latter can never 
cease to be enemies of the former, and will continue ever 
ready to strike for vengeance when opportunity may fa- 



448 MEMOIRS BY 

CHAP, vour. The Indians who inhabit the tract of country 
^ ■ bounded by the Tombigbee on the east, the Tennessee on 
the north, the Mississippi on the west, and the Mexican 
gulf on the south, can muster at least -iSOO fighting men; 
I speak from good information. We will suppose this 
force armed against us, and 1000 i^gular troops and 500 
chasseurs posted at the Walnut hills (the first spot below 
the Chickasaw bluffs, which is not inundated during the 
floods of the river) with ten stout gallies bearing 12 
and 24 pounders, well built and well manned. At a point 
so remote, with the impediments which intervene, the ca- 
sualties to which we shall be subject, the delays which 
are unavoidable, and the disaffection we may have to en- 
counter among our own people, whose population is so 
much scattered ; who can calculate the time, the toil, the 
blood and treasure, which may be found necessary, to 
drive the usiM*pers out of the national territory? — Or if 
the power in possession be hardy and enterprizing, who 
can ascertain the practicability of the attempt ? In my 
own judgment the event would at best be problema- 
tical, because the resources of the invader would be more 
convenient, and his intercourses more prompt and facile 
than our own could be.=* Before we dismiss the subject, 
it may be necessary to take into view, that we dare not 
move out of the Ohio, until we have built a river navy of 
decided superiority; for it may be received as a truth, that 
an expedition after four day's sail down the Mississippi, 
must succeed, surrender, or perish; as we can find no re- 
treat for an army through deep, difficult, extensive, and 
trackless wilds ; for instance, an army driven on shore 
near the river St. Francis, with an enemy in front, will 
find itself at least four hundred miles removed from suc- 
cour, and without transport must fall a prey to hostile 
savages, or starve. Reverting to the question of aban- 
donment or defence, which has been suggested for sake of 
argument and elucidation, let us contemplate the unmea- 

* The present state of our population has wholly changed the cir- 
cumstances of the western country in that quarter. 



GENERAL WILKINSON. 44B 

sured range of the Mississippi, let us view ila countless chap. 
tributary waters, which bathe the most extensive tract of ^'' 
luxuriant soil in the universe; let us reflect that the most 
valuable portion of this soil is ours of right, and that on 
the maintenance of this right must depend the national 
union : under such well founded reflections and the im- 
pressions consequent, I flatter myself we shall not hesi- 
tate, and that a determination may ensue, no longer to 
hazard such precious and important interests ; for the 
safety, the subordination, and prosperity of our western 
possessions, the most cheap and conclusive plan would 
be the capture of New Orleans; but as this step is at 
present unwarrantable, we must turn our thoughts to the 
defensive protection of those settlements; and in tliis 
view it will naturally occur, as a general principle, that 
the means to be opposed must bear a due proportion, to 
the force which may possibly be employed against us. — 
But in the present state of things, I deem three regiments 
of inlantry, three companies of artillery, two troops of 
cavalry, and our two gallies, competent to the defence of 
the country, against any force which could have been 
brought into action from Louisiana, when I left that pro- 
vince in June last, provided we receive a seasonable sup- 
ply of artillery and ordnance stores. 

« The particular dispositions which I should prefer for 
this force, under the circumstances in which 1 left the 
country, may be briefly comprised in the following details, 
viz. a subaltern's command at Fort Pickering (say Chick- 
asaw bluffs,) as a *i locum tenens" to preserve our exclu- 
sive intercourse with the Chickasaw Indians, and for their 
accommodation ; a garrison at Fort Adams, competent to 
command the pass of the river, and to protract a siege for 
three months; and to this service I consider 500 infan- 
try and two companies of artillery adequate, the works 
being finished, and properly armed and endowed. From 
Fort Adams along the line of national demarcation, at 
the critical passes, I propose a chain of small posts, to 
prevent foreign intrigues with our Indians, and to arrest 

VOT/. I. 3 L 



450 MEMOIRS BY 

CHAP, any desultory movements which might Be attempted by 
^^' our left, and towards our rear. The garrisons of these 
posts must be calculated to repel the attacks of small 
arms, and to retire without loss before the approach of 
cannon. "With my main body I would select a healthy 
position, to cover our settlements, and co-operate with 
Fort Adams should it be necessary,* and to enable me to 
give battle to an invading force, or to deny it at my dis- 
cretion. In this situation I would make soldiers and 
wait events. 

<« Having thus, Sir, run over our whole frontier from 
Canada to East Florida, permit me to call your atten- 
tion to the sources, from whence we are to derive the force 
requisite to carry the propositions into effect, which I have 
the honour to offer to your consideration. 

" The regimental returns No. 6, are calculated to ex- 
pose to you the paucity and painful derangement of those 
corps. 

•« The battalion of artillery, necessarily acting in de- 
tachments, we find deficient seventy privates, (more than 
one-fourth of the establishment); we perceive also one 
captain deficient, one subaltern absent, and another about 
to resign his commission. 

*' The first regiment we find scattered from one extre- 
mtiy of the nation to the other; we find two companies 
mustered to the same officer (Captain Tinsley), and six 
companies furnishing 232 privates only, instead of 360, 
and it is painful to remark, that in this number consists 
the strength of the regiment; we find also four captains 
and four subalterns only present with these six companies, 
which leaves two captains and eight subalterns to be ac- 
counted for; and we behold a deficiency of four lieute- 
nants and two surgeon's mates to complete this corps. 

*« The second regiment is more compact, yet it is also 
much dispersed; we perceive a great deficiency in the 
ranks of this corps likewise, eight companies furnishing 
301 privates in place of 480, the establishment; we find 
four captains and sixteen subalterns absent, and one lieu- 
tenant and two surgeon's mates wanting to complete. 



GENERAL WILKINSON. 451 

« Of the third regiment we find five companies on the chap. 
Mississippi, and one in the state of Tennessee, of the last ^*' 
I have no return^ the five companies return only 216 
privates instead of 300, and we find in this corps also, a 
great dispersion of the officers, the surgeon and a mate 
absent, and six lieutenants and one mate wanting to 
complete. 

" The fourth regiment was taken from my command, 
by the secretary of war. Doctor M'Henry, in 1797, and 
I have no return of it. 

«< To complete the three first regiments to the esta- 
blishment, the summary annexed to the regimental re- 
turns exhibits a deficiency of eleven lieutenants, five sur- 
geon's mates, thirty cadets, three sergeant majors, five 
quarter-master sergeants, five senior musicians, sixty 
sergeants, fifty-one corporals, ten drummers, sixteen 
fifers, and one thousand and fifty-one privates; and eigh- 
teen captains and forty-four lieutenants are reported 
absent. 

« This great deficiency of nearly three-fifths of the 
establishment, is an afflicting circumstance, but the de- 
rangement and dispersion of the corps, and the separa- 
tion of the men that are effective from tlie officers, and 
the officej's from the men, tear up the fundamental prin- 
ciples of military institutions; they extinguish the pride 
of corps, that powerfully operative impulse — they prevent 
emulation — they perpetuate ignorance — they produce in- 
subordination and indiscipline^ and they destroy respon- 
sibility, without which all multitudes become mobs, and 
an army the worst of all. 

« It is irksome to retrace lost ground ; it is difficult to 
combat, successfully, the prejudices of the ignorant and 
indolent; it is sometimes odious even to correct abuses, 
and it is always laborious to extract order out of confu- 
sion. — But I, and all within the sphere of my command, 
look up to you, Sir, in full confidence, for such radical 
reform as may rescue the profession from disgrace, and 
the army from utter ruin. We languish to behold inno 



XI. 



4i3^ MEMOIRS BY 

CHAP, vation and presumption* yield to principles and subordi- 
nation; we wish to see rightful prerogatives and just dis- 
tinctions maintained, against partial innovations and ca- 
pricious whims; and we thirst for the restoration of 
responsibility throughout the various grades. To the 
accomplishment of these desirable objects, we deem it 
important, that an immediate organization of tlie compa- 
nies ensue, that the officers be ordered to join without 
delay, and that they be not hereafter separated from their 
men, but by permission of the commanding general; that 
the regiments be incorporated when practicable, and 
when impracticable, that the parts be approximated as 
nearly as the interests of the service may permit; that 
the field officers be attached to, and act with their seve- 
ral corps, and that in the gradations of rank, and the re- 
lations of duty, no authority may interfere between a su- 
perior and an inferior. 

« In the present situation of the troops under conside- 
ration, I find some difficulty in devising a plan for their 



* Antecedent to this period. Doctor M'Henry, then secretary of 
war, had bitroduced into the service anomalies, such as were since 
matured by General Armstrong', and still prevail In the war depart- 
ment, which destroyed every thing like subordination and responsi- 
bility, and concentered supreme power in the head of the department. 
This gentleman ruined the service, but made himself very ridiculous; 
like General Armstrong, he would write a military book, and as Jo- 
mini was not written ut that time, he fell on Cuthbertson's Regula- 
tions for a Battalion, written about the year ITSO, when the British 
infantry formed in three ranks, and the Doctor with the aid of this 
light essayed a system of regulations for the infantry of the United 
States; but not knowing that we formed in two ranks, and confound- 
ing the colonel with the commander in chief, and the regimental 
non-commissioned staff with the general staff, he commenced such a 
system of incongruity as made him ridiculous in the eyes of the 
youngest subaltern. Luckily for the character of the government, he 
sent me — but unluckily for his own, he also sent my subordinates- 
several transcripts of his performance for our opinions, which without 
the violation of gravity or delicacy, I turned into such ridicule, as 
soon exposed to him the absurdity of his imposture, and pi'evented 
th« intrusion of a second chapter on my attention. 



GENERAL AVILKINSON. 4ii53 

incorporation, and in bringing the several garrisons to chap. 
the posts proposed for them j but to delay the corrective, ^* 
will be to foster the disease which menaces our dissolu- 
tion, and with great objects before us, we must step over 
small impediments. 

« With due deference then, and pursuant to tiie ideas 
before expressed, I shall propose that the first regiment 
and two companies of artillery, be assigned to the posts 
of the lakes, and the garrison of Massac on the Ohio j 
and that the second, third and fourth regiments be order- 
ed to the Mississippi. 

« Should this proposition be adopted, it seems advisa* 
ble, that the whole of the infantry in Geoi'gia be trans- 
ferred to some one of our new posts, and the officers be 
ordered to your head quarters for instructions. By this 
arrangement, we save the expense of double transport, 
prevent delay, and avail ourselves of the services of men 
who are seasoned to an unhealthy climate. 

" The troops now at Oswego and Niagara, with Whist- 
ler's company from Fort Wayne, will complete the gar- 
rison proposed for the second place, to one major, one 
captain, four lieutenants, one surgeon's mate, four ser- 
geants, five corporals, one drummer, one fifer, two arti- 
ficers, and seventy-two privates ; and will leave us one 
sergeant, two corporals, one drummer, one fifer, two arti- 
ficers, and sixteen privates of artillery, witli three fifers 
and one corporal of infantry to be carried forward to De- 
troit, and transferred to the first regiment, and Captain 
Thompson's artillery; to which place also, the residue of 
the garrison of Fort Wayne should be ordered, and that 
po?t left in charge of the Indian agent who is posted 
there. We shall then find at Detroit, of artillery, one 
captain, one lieutenant, three sergeants, four corporals, 
two fifers, one drummer, two artificers, and twenty ma- 
trosses, and of the infantry of the first regiment one lieu- 
tenant-colonel, one major, one captain, one lieutenant, 
one surgeon, eight sergeants, twelve corporals, tliree 
fifers, one drummer, and thirty -six privates j to which I 
propose to add, by transfer from the men of tlie second 



454) 



MEMOIRS BY 



CHAP. 
XI. 



regiment now there, in exchange for ti»e same number 
of the first regiment on the Mississippi, six sergeants, 
seven corporals, two drummers, two filers, and seventy- 
five privates, which will give us a total of nine sergeants, 
twelve corporals, three drummers, five fifers, and one 
hundred and eleven privates of infantry ; and these I 
would form into two companies and officer completely ; 
and of tiie supernumerary non-commissioned officers, 
drums and fifes, one sergeant, one corporal, one drum 
and one fife, may be assigned to Captain Prior, who 
wants them, and the residue may be employed in the re- 
cruiting service. Thompson's artillery should be com- 
pleted without delay, and in the mean time, a detach- 
ment sent to relieve Porter at Mackinac, who with his 
company should be ordered to Massac, via Chicago and 
the Illinois river, a safe, easy and expeditious roule du- 
ring spring or autumn, in peroques or birch canoes ; and 
for the sake of responsibility and economy, the detach- 
ment of Thompson's company, now- at Massac, should be 
transferred to Porter. The following will then be found 
the present actual strength of the first regiment, and the 
force of those garrisons respectively. 



POSTS. 


Species 
of troops. 


c 
1 


1 

1 


5 

6 

1 
1 
1 

1 

1 


s 

1 


5 

1 
1 


1 


a 

u- 

cc 

1 

3 
3 
9 
1 

4 
3 
3 


S 

5 
'•J 

1 
4 
4 
12 
1 
4 
4 
4 


q 

I 

1 

3 

1 
1 
1 
1 


•■^ 


< 






Companies. 


Niagara < 
Detroit j 
Mackinac ^ 
Massac ^ 


Artillery 

Infantry 

Artillery 

Infantry 

Artillery 

Ititantry 

Artillery 

Infantry 


1 

•2 
5 

1 
1 
1 


2 
7 


16 
56 
20 
111 
13 
32 
26 
49 


21 
65 
32 
139 
17 
42 
42 
58 


Thompson's 

Whistler's 

Thompson's 

Britt's 

Thompson's 

Prior's 

Porter's 

Pasteur's 



<( A comparison of this return, with the garrisons pro- 
posed for the posts it comprehends, will exhibit a great 
deficiency of men and officers ; to repair these defects, 
the due complement of officers for tlie five companies, 
should be ordered immediately to join, and the residue 
sjiould be actively employed in the recruiting service. 



GENERAL WILKINSON. 455 

and it is presumed that fifteen officers, which will he left CHAP, 
for tliat duty, may with industry complete the regiments 
by the next spring, before whirh period we have little to 
apprehend, as the frost will soon lock up the lakes. 

« Of the second regiment, we have eight companies 
returned, which give us 301 privates ; these should be 
organised into six companies, completely officered, and 
the residue of the gentlemen in commission, the surplus 
non-commissioned officers, drums and fifes, sliould be 
ordered to the recruiting service ; the detachments of this 
corps, may with facility, with expedition and economy, 
reach the destination proposed for it, by the Miami of the 
Lakes, the Wabash and the Ohio rivers; and should the 
proposition be adopted, orders ought to be immediately 
issued for the movement, as the autumnal floods are at 
hand, and it is important to the health of the troops des- 
tined to the south, that they should reach their stations 
in autumn. 

« The third returns five weak companies in the Mis- 
sissippi territory, and we are assured of one company in 
the state of Tennessee ; the last should be ordered to joi» 
the main body ; the whole should be officered to the es- 
tablishment, and the recruiting service should be pushed 
by the supernumeraries ; the colonel, who has never seen 
his regiment in seven yearns service, should be ordered to 
join it, and the first major, who has been more than three 
years absent, should be ordered to do duty either with hig 
corps or at a recruiting rendezvous. 

« With respect to the fourth regiment, stationed in the 
state of Tennessee, I have no report on which to found 
details ; but as it appears that peace and content have 
been restored in that quarter, the objects of the command 
there have ceased, and the corps may with facility, and 
without expense, be readily transferred to the Missis- 
sippi. The fragments of an ai'tillery company, and a 
troop of dragoons attached to this regiment, may also be 
ordered by the same route, to the most feeble, exposed 
and succourless frontier of the nation; but special care 
should be had in the removal of this corps, tliat the due 



456 MEMOIRS BY 

CHAP, complement of officers march with it. Under the cover 
No. 7, you will find, respectfully submitted, a plan for 
the organization of the four old regiments, which by the 
late aiigm* ntation and change of establishment, have been 
entirely disorganised. In the distribution of the officers, 
I Iiave cons :lted talents, qualifications and merits, as far 
as my knowledge extends ; and when this has failed me, 
I have cast lots. I btg to call your attention to my pre- 
ference of captains, as I have seen most of them tried, 
and have made the selection with a view to combat. 

«< In examining the ordnance return for Fort Wayne, 
you will perceive a handsome stock of small arms, and a 
small quantity of powder. Should the garrison be re- 
moved, it will become a matter worthy consideration, 
whether these articles should be carried to Detroit, or 
forwarded to the Mississippi ; the expense will be nothing 
in either case, and the reflection which should determine 
us, will rest on the greater or less safety and utility of 
those weapons at the respective posts. To account to 
you for the small quantity of fixed ammunition, at the 
barrier on the Mississippi, I must observe, that we sat 
down in the woods, and had our buildings to form from 
the stump, which prevented the completion of a labora- 
tory until within a few days of my departure; and I may- 
add (with great truth) and I do it with sensible pain, 
that I have not an officer there who knows how to drive 
a fuse, or charge a shell. This is a point of too much 
magnitude to escape your attention, and I trust some offi- 
cers of skill and experience may be forthwith ordered to 
that quarter, and among them a field officer is indispen- 
sable ; — — — is now senior on that station, and he is 
not only ignorant, but at intervals his conduct approach- 
es to insanity. It appears essential, that some person 
should be employed for that department, capable of inj 
structing our officers in the inferior branches of the ma- 
thematics, to comprehend spherical trigonometry and the 
doctrine of projectiles, and also to teach them the use of 
the necessary instruments; as I know not an individual 
in service there who can take cither altitude or distance. 



GENERAL AVILlvINSON. 457 

©r who understands the proper application of Iladley's chap. 
quadrant. On this subject it is necessai-y to add, t!)at ^*- 
books and instruments should be furnished, as I Iiave 
never received either from the public. A theodolite, a 
sextant, a circumferenter v^ith chain, and three sets of 
pocket instruments, would, I apprehend, suffice. 

«* Under the cover, No. 8, 1 take leave to offer you a 
variety of information relative to the interior communi- 
cations of our country, from Michilimackinac to La 
Prairie des Chiens, by the west sljore of Lake Miciiigan, 
Green Bay, Fox river, and the Ouisconson, and by the 
east coast of the same lake, to the river St. Joseph, and 
Chicago ; and from thence across into the Illinois river, 
and by that stream into the Mississippi, and down to Ca- 
hokia; and also the route from Cahokia up the Missis- 
sippi to La Prairie des Chiens, where we have annually 
the most numerous assemblage of Indians, and the most 
considerable mart for Indian traffic within our limits, or 
within one thousand miles of the same point. Under the 
same cover, you will find reports touching the Tombig- 
bee, and the country intervening from thence, to our 
lowest establishment on the Mississippi, which will be 
accompanied by a general (though incorrect) map of the 
country, and a sea coast chart from New Orleans to 
Mobile, with a pretty exact plan of the Mobile river 
up to Fort Stoddert, and a sketch of Lake Michigan, for 
which I must refer you to Lieutenant Heton. 

« Under No. 9, I take the liberty to offer you certain 
transcripts from my orderly book, which taken with my 
order of the 22d of May, 1797, before submitted to you, 
have constituted standing rules of service, and therefore 
it may be necessary for the commanding general to 
change, modify, or sanction them, to prevent the quib- 
bles and controversies of the impatient and litigious. 

" The moral, physical and political principles, proper- 
ties and relations of the several subjects which are glanced 
at in this detail, will be examined in another report, 
which I shall digest at my leisure, as it can have no in- 
fluence on any immediate operation. 
VOL. L T M 



4i58 MEMOIRS BY 

CHAP. " I am conscious, Sir, that you will find in these sheets 
^•- nuich useless prattle; but in balancing between precision 
and prolixity, I decided that it was safer to trespass on 
your time, than to suppress information, however frivo- 
lous. In matters of speculation, your intelligence will 
correct my errors, but in matters of fact you may repose 
confidently on this report, which is most respectfully sub- 
mitted to you, 

« By, Sir, 

« Your obliged and faithful servant, 
(Signed) « JA. WILKINSON. 

** Major-general Hamilton,** 



After perusing this memoir. General Hamilton ex- 
pressed his approbation, but informed me he should sub- 
mit itto General Washington^s consideration, for, although 
the General had declined command, until there should be 
occasion for him to take the field, yet he consulted him on 
all general arrangements, and that as this reference would 
require a fortnight, I might employ the interval as I 
thought proper ,• I proposed to visit Boston to review the 
scenes of my military noviciate, and he charged me with 
the letter for President Adams, which will be found in 
page 157 of the next volume. On my return to New 
York, I was informed that General Washington had ap- 
proved my disposition of the troops, for the north and 
south-western frontier, and measures were immediately 
commenced, to carry them into execution ; but they were 
arrested by the unexpected accommodation of our differ- 
ences with France, and the sudden reduction of the army. 

For these blessings the United States were indebted to 
the pacific disposition, and disinterested patriotism of 
Doctor George Logan, for which he deserved a civic 
crown, but under the delusions of the times, was reward- 
ed with reprobation and abuse. It must be fresh in 
every man's recollection, that in the course of the awful 
revolution which stained the face of Europe with blood? 



GENERAL WILKINSON. 45^ 

the independent policy and political prejudices of the chap. 
United States, opposed to the imperious fanaticism and ^'* 
despotic spirit of revolutionary France, had, in the 
years 1798-9, brought the two countries into a species 
of piratical conflict, which menaced a speedy, open, and 
vindictive war. To prevent the dreadful visitation, if 
in his power, this gentleman, in tlie enjoyment of ease 
and affluence, with a rising family, and a consort whoso 
personal accomplishments, domestic virtues, and superior 
understanding, render her not only an ornament to her 
sex, but I can say, without flattery, do honour to the hu- 
man race, determined to forego these blessings and de- 
parted from Stcnton near Philadelphia, the venerable 
seat of his ancestors, and visited Paris at his private 
expense : this expenditure required a sacrifice, and he 
sold a part of his estate, to fulfil a duty to humanity 
and his country. On his arrival at the French metro- 
polis, the good oflices of the Batavian minister, Mr. 
Schimelpenninck procured him an introduction to the 
director Merlin, and enabled him to place before that in- 
fluential man, in its true light, the real character of 
tlie quarrel between the two countries. A very frank 
and independent conversation produced such explana- 
tions, as couhl not be refuted nor resisted, and which 
were followed by the raising of the unrighteous and op- 
pressive embargo on American vessels, which had me- 
naced the fortunes of so many good men ; assurances 
were also given formally to Mr. Murray, our minister at 
the Batavian republic, that the French directory was 
ready to treat with commissioners of the United States, 
for the adjustment of their controversies j a negociation 
ensued, which however interrupted by diplomatic artifice 
or passion, was finally successful ; and thus by the hu- 
mane interposition of an individual, the war which had 
already arrived at naval conflict, was arrested ; and the 
boundless prosperity of this nation was preserved and 
promoted. How many thousands are there who owe 
their fortunes, how many more their lives, to this agency 
of Doctor George Logan ? Yet, how few remember it! ! ? 



460 MEMOIRS BY 

CHAP. Moved by the same principles of patriotism, benefi- 
cence and clirisiianity, Doctor Loj^an made an attempt to 
prevent the late war with the British nation, for which 
purpose he again crossed the ocean and visited Great 
Britain ; there he found in the Duke of Bedford, the 
Marquis of Lansdown, Sir Joiin Sinclair, baronet, and 
Mr. Coke,* the distinguished and highly independent 
member for the county of Norfolk, and other eminent 
public characters, the most friendly dispositions towards 
the United States, and the strongest desire for peace; — 
during his stay he addiessed a letter to, and had an in- 
terview with the Marquis Wellesley, then secretary of 
state for foreign affairs on the subject, which appeared to 
him satisfactory; but tlie dominant spirit of the British 
cabinet, and mutunl jealousies and iriitations, forbid that 
conci'iatory course, which might possibly have promoted 
and preserved a good understanding between the two na- 
ticms. If this personal mission failed of effect, it was not 
the fault of the agent, who deserved the grateful thanks 
of his country for the undertaking; but the Federalists 
had abused the Doctor for his officious, but successful in- 
terference with France ; so on this occasion, downright 
gortd Democrats by profession ridiculed his visit to 
Great Britain as the impulse of an enthusiastic mind : 
such is the intolerance of faction and the vehemence of 
interested partisans in all cases, which tend to affect t'leir 
political views and designs. But, I would to God we had 
an hundred influential citizens of the same spirit and 
piinri{)!e scattered over the United States, for it is by the 
cultivation of such a spirit and such principles, that the 
happy constitution and government of our country, can be 
rescued from the fangs, not of a political p;irty, but of an. 
interested and ambitious cabal, ami brought back to its 
original purity ; and it is by such means and such men, 

* The accomplishecl proprietor and occupant of the princely man- 
sion and estate of Holkam, a gentleman as celebrated for his hospita- 
lity and private virtues as for his pure and consistent line of politics. 
He is said to have more than once declined the honours of the peer- 
age, preferring his high standing as a commoner. 



GENERAL WILKINSON. 46i 

the peace, propriety and happiness of the republic will chap. 
be preserved. 

The following letter will demonstrate the principles of 
the writer, and the motives of Doctor Logan's last visit 
to Europe. 

« St. Jameses PlacCf JVb. 37, 
.^pril 28thf 1810. 
« My Lord, 

« I arrived in the last British packet from New York, 
and had the pleasure of bringing with me despatches frorai 
the President of the United States to our minister in Lon- 
don, of the most conciliatory nature, calculated to settle 
the unhappy difference which has too long subsisted be- 
tween Great Britain and the United States, equally inju- 
rious to both. 

« Since my being in London, I find an opinion prevails 
with some gentlemen of high standing in the councils of 
their country, that the President and the people of the 
United States have a strong attachment to France. Hav- 
ing been a member of the senate of the United States for 
six years, and for more than fifteen years been honoured 
with the friendship of Mr. Madison, I know this charge 
to be without foundation. As I consider it of some im- 
portance to have your mind perfectly satisfied on this 
point, with the permission of your Lordship, I will wait 
on you to-morrow at one o'clock, to have a short conver- 
sation with you on the subject. 

*< Sensible of the importance of your time, devoted to 
the service of your country, I should not wish to intrude 
on it for a moment; but the tremendous power of Bona- 
parte in Europe, his activity and future prospects of do- 
mination, renders it absolutely necessary that both our 
governments, in their present negotiation, should resort 
to a spirit of confidence, justice and forbearance, and not 
to jealousy and petty acts of irritation. Mr. Pinkney, 
our minister, has the full confidence of the President^ 



46s MEMOIRS BY 

CHAP, and is himself well disposed to promote a happy recon- 
^^^J^ ciliation. 

*« Accept assurances of my respect. 

« GEO. LOGAN. 

« The most noble the Marquis Wellesley.** 



« Stentoiif March 20th, 1815. 
« Dear Sir, 

« It is with the highest gratification I congratulate 
you on the return of peace between Great Britain and 
the United States. You well know the anxiety of my 
mind, when in London, to prevent the direful conflict, by 
which both nations have lost many valuable citizens, and 
expended millions of money, without acquiring one single 
advantage. But this calamitous event is not attributable 
to the people of either nation, but to the infatuated coun- 
cils of both. This is evidenced by the univei*sal joy per- 
vading every class of citizens, even before the terms of 
peace were known. 

** Hostilities having ceased, it is probable a treaty of 
friendship and commerce will be contemplated. Should 
this desirable event take place, it is to be hoped the ne- 
gotiations will not be tarnished by temporary expedients, 
or mere local considerations, injurious to the general in- 
terest, but that a spirit of magnanimity will prevail, as 
the soundest policy, to insure the peace and future pros- 
perity of both countries. 

« Accept assurances of my esteem and friendship. 

« GEO. LOGAN. 
« Sir John Sinclair*'* 

<« Edinburgh, July QOth, 181,5. 
<« My dear Sir, 

« I had the pleasure of receiving yours. I rejoice ex- 
ceedingly at the restoration of peace between the two 



GENERAL WILKINSON. 463 

countries. It was neither ycmr fault nor mine, that a chap. 
war, so unfortunate for both countries, was not prevent- ^'" 
ed. I am now at Edinburgh, at a distance from all my 
papers, and can only request your acceptance of the trifles 
herewith inclosed, together with two recipes for prevent- 
ing the mildew, which would be invaluable, if they are 
found to answer. 

« Excuse a few hasty lines, and believe me with much 
esteem and regard, 

« Yours, 

** JOHN SINCLAIR. 

« Lr, George Logan.** 



The splendid abilities of Genei'al Hamilton were ad- 
mitted on all hands, but his political sentiments and pub- 
lic services, became a subject of controversy between the 
adverse parties, which divided the community; on one 
hand he was eulogised as the consummate statesman, 
and the sound patriot; whilst on the other, he was charg- 
ed with predilections to royalty, and political attach- 
ments hostile to republican institutions ; his works best 
bespeak his transcendant talents, and General Washing- 
ton bore testimony to his probity and patriotism. The 
entire confidence with which this gentleman treated me, 
licensed the most unreserved frankness, and one day in a 
desultory conversation, I inquired of liim whether he 
knew he was considered by many, as the advocate of 
royal governments, and the decided friend of Great Bri- 
tain ? He replied, that those with whom he was associat- 
ed in politics, and who understood him, would acquit him 
of these predelections ; but that those who were of the 
opposite party, had he understood, accused liim of both ; 
he said, that the part he took in the federal convention, 
had he supposed given rise to the first imputation, and 
his opposition to the public sympathioe, for revolutionary 
France, to the last; that in the convention, ho had la- 



4j64 memoirs by 

CHAP, boured to promote a system of .government, which he bc- 
'^' lieved best calculated to preserve the intej^rity of the 
union ; for, that, from his reading and experience, he 
could not bring himself to believe a great empire could 
be protected by a thatched roof, against the storms